Scott Pruitt’s tenure as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been mired in controversy since the start, beginning with his nomination by President Trump. Several environment groups and unions protested the appointment, as did former EPA workers in a letter penned to Senators. Other Republicans privately expressed reservations against Pruitt for his disdain of federal regulations, which stem from his strong belief in state rights.
Since Scott Pruitt took office he has attracted controversy when he doubted the credibility of climate change, arguing there is “tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact” of human activity on the Earth’s atmosphere.
This is in contradiction to the established scientific consensus on climate change and the purpose of the EPA’s regulations and laws, causing some anxiety among environmentalists.
Pruitt also began the process of rubbing out the previous administration’s regulations, beginning with breaking away Obama-era environmental regulations on car and truck emissions.
The rollbacks have received pleasant reactions from automobile manufacturers, including support from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, but environmental activists warn of the safety and environmental consequences of cutting back these regulations.
Gina McCarthy, former Administrator of the EPA under President Barrack Obama, says Pruitt’s proposals do not have any “factual basis”.
The EPA found in 2016 that chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used to kill bugs, to be unsafe at all levels and very harmful to children. The EPA discovered that the probable consequences of chlorpyrifos included “potential for neurodevelopmental outcomes”.
Pruitt refused to ban chlorpyrifos, despite insistence and petitions from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network North America. Earthjustice have sued the EPA on April 5th, 2017 due to its inaction over chlorpyrifos.
Earlier this year, the EPA curbed regulations on clean water. Pruitt claimed his aim was to take “significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses”.
The protections granted to clean water is essential to 117 million Americans who rely on it for drinking and the wildlife living in wetland areas.
The Clean Water Act, the act that Pruitt seeks to revoke, is even considered to be incomplete by some environmentalists, far from needing to be replaced, others argue it needs to be expanded.
Peter Gleick, a member of the US National Academy of Science and the president-emeritus of Pacific Institute, speaking in the Guardian, says federal regulations relating to water pollution are “increasingly outdated in the face of new threats from unregulated contaminants, worsening climatic changes, failing water infrastructure and direct political assault”.
Among the first things the EPA did when Pruitt was announced administrator was to cut newly-introduced regulation removing mercury from urban wastewater, however, a lawsuit led by the Natural Resources Defense Council caused the EPA to walk back on it proposed cuts.
The EPA has been forced by courts to reimpose regulations regarding methane gas flares and toxic wastes from power plants when it had attempted to repeal regulation in those areas.