On February 17, 2017, Scott Pruitt was confirmed as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a party-line vote in the Senate. Democrats had voiced many concerns over Pruitt’s past statements and lawsuits aimed at eliminating core regulations that protect our clean air and clean water. It has been nearly one year since his confirmation, and virtually every fear has been realized.
Under Pruitt, the EPA is no longer working in the public’s best interest. Pruitt has spent much of his career attacking the EPA and is now gutting it from the inside. We should expect nothing less from someone who sued to stop efforts to reduce mercury and smog and has turned over the agency reins to the very industries he is supposed to be regulating. The EPA has already repealed regulations to the benefit of the coal, oil, gas, and chemical industries that he worked so closely with as Attorney General of Oklahoma. He has reversed a ban on a pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which is known to cause developmental problems in children. Pruitt has even replaced scientists on the EPA Advisory Board with industry representatives. He has overseen an unprecedented delay in critical rules (including the Clean Water rule and lead paint restrictions), resulting in fewer protections for American’s against toxic chemicals and environmental hazards.
Pruitt, like much of the Republican Congress and Trump, is also a staunch denier of climate science. On February 6, 2018, he suggested that climate change will actually be good for the planet, despite nearly every climate scientist, economist, and government saying otherwise. He, along with Republicans in Congress, led the fight to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, an international agreement intended to reduce the effects of climate change. We are now the ONLY country on the planet opposed to stopping climate change. He has fought the Clean Power Plan aimed at decreasing dirty emissions from coal and gas-fired plants that contribute to climate change.
The EPA’s mission is to protect the public health of all Americans and protect our environment from dangerous pollution. It was created to clean up our air and our water, and it has been remarkably successful. It has dramatically reduced asthma-causing smog and cleaned up toxic waterways in every state since the 1970’s. In South Carolina, the EPA has successfully cleaned up over a dozen creeks, rivers, swamps, and wetlands, including significantly reducing levels of dangerous bacteria and pollutants in the Tyger River, right here in the Upstate. Loosening restrictions on runoff and chemicals threatens to undo the progress that has been made.
Ensuring clean air and water, and protecting the public’s health is one of the government’s most basic jobs. It is past time for Congress to assert its authority and demand that the EPA carry out its mission of protecting the health and safety of all Americans. This will only happen if we elect individuals who are not in the pockets of polluting industries, unlike many Congressional Republicans. I care deeply about protecting the environment and the health and safety of the public. I strongly oppose these senseless attacks on our health and environment and am committed to ensuring clean air and water for future generations.
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