EPA’s Pruitt touts a coal comeback at a PA mine—but the industry already sees the writing on the wall

As part of his new “Back-to-Basics” campaign to change his agency’s mission (which appears to swap protecting public health for protecting polluting industries), Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited Pennsylvania’s Harvey Mine to promote the Trump administration’s outsized support for Big Coal. Pruitt falsely blames regulations that protect the health and environment of Americans for the decline of the coal industry. In reality, coal jobs have been in steep decline for decades due to industry automation and the rise of cheap natural gas. Even Consol Energy—which owns Harvey Mine—has gone from one of America’s largest coal producers to selling off its mines to focus on natural gas production. Pruitt visited Consol’s last remaining coal mine, which they are also looking to looking to sell to get out of coal business altogether. Moreover, while the EPA’s core mission has always been to protect the environmental and public health, now it’s busy attacking laws that protect our air and water. Instead, Pruitt wants to redirect the agency’s role to “creating an environment where more jobs can grow.” Perhaps that’s why the EPA chief ignored the fact that Harvey Mine was fined $3 million for polluting the Ohio River—the source of drinking water for three million people—and has been busy racking up millions more in fines for health- and worker-safety violations. The Trump and Pruitt environmental agenda seems to be about ignoring the basics, not getting back to them.

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