All the Scott Pruitt Scandals that are REALLY Bad for the Environment

by Cassady Craighill

April 9, 2018

During days full of scandal and corruption, let’s not forget that Scott Pruitt is also terrible for the planet

Scott Pruitt

Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr.

Wow, Scott Pruitt. Just wow. The amount of hot water the Environmental Protection Agency chief finds himself drowning in lately is staggering. In case you’ve lost track, reporting has revealed that Pruitt spent more than $100,000 on first-class flights on the taxpayer’s dime, has been living in an energy lobbyist’s condo with discounted rent, and doling out shady raises to his favorite staffers. Oh, and he reportedly fell behind on his $50 a night rent for his lobbyist condo and was apparently the worst tenant ever. This is all on top of the damage he is doing to our environment including the fuel efficiency rollbacks announced earlier last week which would roll back clean car standards and threaten public health.

It’s important to pluck out a few of the Pruitt no-nos that are not just corrupt and shady (and honestly, just bizarre), but could also mean more air pollution, more contaminated water sources, and more dirty oil pipelines.

Trump's EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

Donald Trump’s EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is a favorite of the fossil fuel industry, having sued the very agency he now leads multiple times during his tenure as Oklahoma Attorney General.

1) Giving himself the power to approve projects that could violate the Clean Water Act

According to a leaked memo from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Pruitt told regional EPA offices to hand power over to him when it came to Clean Water Act decisions and approvals. This means any project that could have a negative impact on water sources like wetlands, ponds, and streams could easily get approved by Pruitt, arguably the most industry-friendly EPA chief in history. Projects could include anything from housing developments to oil pipelines to, yes, the border wall.

2) Lobbyist charges Pruitt dirt-cheap rent for DC condo while Pruitt’s EPA approves Enbridge’s dirty tar sands pipeline, client of the lobbyist landlord.

Scott Pruitt was paying- well, barely- $50 a night to stay in a DC condo connected to Canadian energy company Enbridge’s lobbying firm, Williams & Jensen, and specifically the wife of the firm’s chairman and CEO. During the same time period, Pruitt and the EPA signaled its approval of Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline expansion project. This expansion would mean hundreds of thousands more barrels of oil a day flowing from the tar sands in Canada to the United States through another janky pipeline. Enbridge is the same company that faced a $61 million fine, the second-largest in history under the Clean Water Act, after its pipeline dumped more than 1 million gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. The biggest fine came from, of course, the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

3) Pruitt staffs EPA with fossil fuel flacks using illegitimate funds

So Pruitt used a rule that is designed to quickly staff the EPA with civil servants, say perhaps in the event of an environmental disaster, to hire lobbyists whose former jobs were to advocate for fossil fuel companies including projects like the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. These former lobbyists are now in charge of managing EPA issues like the Clean Water Act, oil spills and water contamination from toxic chemicals.

Keep in mind that all this corruption happened in just a year and some change. Not only is Scott Pruitt a clear and present danger to our environment, he operates in step with the rest of the Trump administration which is to act without any ethical compass. Congress must use its power to remove Pruitt from office before he does any more damage.

Cassady Craighill

By Cassady Craighill

Cassady is a media officer for Greenpeace USA based on the East Coast. She covers climate change and energy, particularly how both issues relate to the Trump administration.

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