EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent the day yesterday facing withering questioning from legislators on both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Appropriations Committee (at least from the Democratic members anyway) over the multiple allegations of runaway spending and ethical violations that he’s been associated with since joining the Trump administration.
For Robert Redford, however, the biggest Scott Pruitt scandal is the one right in front of us. That’s actually the title of the op-ed that the actor/director/producer and trustee of the Natural Resource Defense Council wrote in The Washington Post today.
Redford lists all of the “indefensible actions” that Pruitt has taken that are rightly being condemned: the below-market rate condo deal accepted from a lobbyist with business in front of the EPA, the first-class travel and outrageously expensive security details, the $43,000 sound-proof booth to protect his conversations from being overheard, and the rest. The environmental activist looks at all of Pruitt’s conduct as head of the EPA and rightfully declares it as “beyond disappointing; it’s disgraceful.”
Yet Redford says that focusing on the daily revelations about Pruitt’s corruption misses the larger and more important point, that:
“Pruitt has failed at the core responsibility of his job.”
“He’s not protecting the environment. Pruitt has become a one-man public-health risk to the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat,” Redford writes. “From day one, he has worked to gut the EPA and hamstring its ability to protect the environment and public health. He works on behalf of the fossil-fuel industry and other industrial polluters, not the American people. That’s the greatest scandal — and the reason, first and foremost, he’s got to go.”
The Hollywood celebrity goes on to decry Pruitt’s promotion of misinformation as “one of the gravest threats to our future.”
“To hear Pruitt tell it, the rising seas, widening deserts and raging wildfires Americans are experiencing are reasons to debate the science on climate change, not take action against it.”
Redford continues with a detailing of the numerous environmentally disastrous policies that Pruitt has enacted during his tenure at the EPA, from the withdrawal from the Paris climate accord to the weakening of clean power and vehicle emissions standards to the rollback of protections that ensure corporations wonx’t continue to spew dangerous chemicals into the nation’s air and waterways.
The actor condemns Pruitt’s hostility to basic science in his transformation of how and why the EPA conducts its mission.
“Meanwhile, he has ignored research from scientists at the agency and refused to ban dangerous chemicals, such as the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Instead, he hired a lobbyist connected with one of the manufacturers of the chemical and then reduced fines levied against the company for violating regulations.”
“He also attacked science itself, proposing policies in the guise of transparency that would limit the research that the agency could use to make decisions,” Redford says.
All of Pruitt’s despicable dereliction of his duties leads Redford to an inevitable conclusion.
“Americans deserve better. The EPA was established to protect the environment and public health for everyone. It’s something America got right, and it is up to us to defend it.”
“Pruitt should be replaced by a principled leader who will do what the EPA was intended to do: protect America from men such as Pruitt,” Redford says to finish his op-ed
If one of the most noted environmental activists in the country can see this so clearly, why is Pruitt still leading this crucial agency?
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