We thought perhaps we heard it wrong when we learned that President-Elect Donald Trump announced he had nominated Scott Pruitt, Attorney General of Oklahoma, to the lead the Environmental Protection Agency. But no, this really happened and it’s the clearest signal yet that a President Trump intends to shred his predecessor’s legacy on climate. We can’t let that happen.
Over the last 8 years, the United States has made historic progress in the fight against climate change. Overall greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 12% in the U.S. even while seeing economic growth. Coal production is down 36%, electricity generation from wind and solar has increased a whopping 342%, and there are now twice as many solar jobs than coal jobs in the U.S. With the Paris Climate Agreement now in force, the United States has committed to even deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in the next few decades.
Cheering for Fossil Fuels
As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Mr. Pruitt has lead the litigious effort to stop the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, the foundation of the United States’ commitment in the Paris Climate Agreement. In addition, he lobbied against limits on toxic air pollution from power plants like arsenic and mercury and has been a cheerleader for the fracked gas industry that has turned his home state into the most earthquake prone state in the nation.
In fact, Mr. Trump’s nominee to head the EPA is at the center of what the New York Times called an “unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Priutt and other Republican attorney generals have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda.” These companies have their pocketbooks in mind – rather than the health of our people and planet – and have been staunch opponents of the EPA’s work to clean up dirty power plants and reduce dangerous greenhouse gas pollution.
Put Out the Fire Before Even It Starts
We’ve made too much progress in the fight against climate change to take a leap back. There is too much at stake. Too many people and their livelihoods are at risk from a warming world to have someone like Mr. Priutt lead the agency charged with protecting our environment. Mike Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club was correct when he stated, “Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.” Instead of fanning the flames of climate change let’s dump a big bucket of cold water on this nomination.