Scott Pruitt as EPA head is harmful for our environment

Pruitt has railed against the EPA in his former role as Oklahoma attorney general.

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, the Senate approved the nomination of Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency — the government entity whose purpose is to protect our country’s land, water, and air.

The nomination — heavily contested by Senate Democrats — marks a deep irony: Pruitt has spent the majority of his career as an opponent of the EPA. In the past several years, Pruitt — the former Oklahoma attorney general — filed several lawsuits against major EPA regulation bills on behalf of a variety of lobby groups belonging to coal, oil, and natural gas. Given his previous stance, the future of environmental policy is highly uncertain.

The EPA serves a critical function. One such function is to prevent and deal with ongoing crises like the water toxicity in Flint, Mich. Last year, the EPA came under heavy fire for not providing the degree of urgency to the state authorities in Michigan before the crisis in Flint got out of hand. During this time, the EPA was urged to be more proactive in these types of issues.

Given that Scott Pruitt wants to limit the involvement of the government in environmental policy and regulations, we will likely not see this type of needed proactive response. This type of inaction could lead to tremendous water insecurity and illness unless Secretary Pruitt doesn’t ensure safety of these resources, vowing to collaborate with state and private entities to protect our water supply.

In Minnesota, the expected inaction of the now-uncertain EPA administration over protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is highly concerning. While the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture rejected requests to renew a mining lease in the BWCAW last December — echoed by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management, which subsequently rejected a renewal request by Twin Metals — it’s unclear what President Donald Trump’s administration will do under similar circumstances.

The impending encroach of climate change is becoming a more urgent threat. Regions around the world are having a tangible impact as a consequence. This administration must realize the urgency to act in favor of protecting the environment, prioritizing the sanctity of our earth over the interests of oil, natural gas and coal lobbies. These special interests, as long as they meddle with politics, will continue to drift policy directives away from protecting people and toward protecting financial interests. That is simply unacceptable.