While we try to focus on energy and transportation issues on LongTailPipe, the current USA political climate under the President Trump administration has us nervously watching political news. One issue affecting the project of eliminating fossil fuel consumption is the EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt. Coming from an oil state (Oklahoma), and having spent his time as Oklahoma Attorney General suing and suing and suing to stop environmental regulations, his pick to head the EPA fits the Trump pattern of appointing people to run agencies they’d previously attacked presumably in order to destroy those agencies. Pruitt has certainly done his bit to hamstring the EPA and destroy the environmental regulations he swore to uphold.
Today’s news of Pruitt’s resignation from his post as EPA Administrator is welcome. As you will see in the following, Pruitt was a spectacularly bad EPA Administrator, with a constant stream of career-ending scandals, as well as a long list of EPA regulations Pruitt has rolled back, or is seeking to roll back. With Pruitt out of the job will we see the EPA return to its core mission?
But don’t expect a reprieve on that front any time soon. Pruitt’s deputy Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is just as insistent on dismantling climate change regulations, just as friendly to the Coal industry, and will serve as acting Administrator until a replacement is found.
According to the NY Times, President Trump had grown weary of the controversies surrounding Pruitt. He is the subject of at least 13 federal investigations into several kinds of wrong-doing. Some examples:
- A $43,000 secure communications booth he ordered was flatly illegal.
- When first moving to Washington DC, Pruitt had rented a room in an apartment owned by an energy lobbyist, creating obvious conflict of interest issues.
- He demoted or “sidelined” EPA employees who’d questioned his actions
- He used staffers as personal assistants – flatly illegal
- Lavish travel expenditures on a trip to Morocco, a place where the EPA had no business
- Attempts to pressure Chick-fil-A to give his wife a franchise to run a store
Advocacy group Public Citizen issued this statement:
Pruitt’s Exit Is Deserved, But Won’t Change the Trump Administration
Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: President Donald Trump today announced he would accept the resignation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Scott Pruitt was the stuff of late-night parody, but he also was emblematic of the Trump administration – its corruption, its deadly deregulation, its handover of total power to the very industries that agencies are regulating and of course its unprecedented and pervasive ethical failures. Pruitt’s departure may cost us some jokes but won’t change the Trump administration or help save the planet or Americans’ health. Next in line to run the EPA is a coal lobbyist – but what Americans actually need is someone who gives a damn about the EPA’s lifesaving mission. And Mr. Pruitt, don’t let the (lead painted) door hit you on the way out.
Corruption is one thing – and Pruitt certainly deserved to be sacked long ago over the controversies. We’re also extremely concerned about if or when EPA regulations can be restored.
An example is a lawsuit filed by several advocacy groups to attempt to force the Trump Administration to maintain clean car standards. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s April decision was that America’s clean car standards are “not appropriate” and should be rolled back. This has to do with the new stringent CAFE standards developed by the Obama Administration in cooperation with the auto industry. Those standards are already reducing air pollution, decreasing oil consumption, and saving the economy lots of money not spent on buying gasoline. Curiously, the Trump administration plans to roll back the standards, even though automakers are meeting the standards faster and more affordably than originally predicted.
The NY Times has a running tally of EPA rules that have already been destroyed, are in the process of being destroyed, or have been mooted for destruction. The list now shows 67 different rules such as reporting on methane emissions, elimination of the anti-dumping rule on coal companies, allowing new coal mining leases, the Clean Power Plan, and more.
In January the Climate Reality Project posted a one-year-review of climate change rollbacks under the Trump Administration. For example:
A rule preventing coal companies from dumping mining debris into local streams. Revoked. A ban on offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans. Repealed. A proposed rule asking mines to prove they can pay for potential future cleanup efforts. Reversed. Guidance for federal agencies to include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental reviews. Withdrawn. Review of strong fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. Reopened. An Obama-era rule regulating royalties on oil, gas, and coal extracted from federal or tribal land. Rescinded.
And there’s a whole lot more, for example the decision to pull out of the Paris Accords on Climate Change.
Just two days ago the New Yorker magazine reported on one theory as to why Pruitt had not been fired. Trump wanted to put Pruitt into the job currently held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, so that Pruitt could then close down or harm the Meuller investigation. The idea there is that The Vacancies Act allows Trump to appoint an existing Cabinet member into a different Cabinet post without having to go to Congress for approval. It seems that option is now off the table.
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