EPA nominee denies the undeniable

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator-designate, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Exchange)

This past Friday, while liberals across the country were trying to deny the fact that Donald Trump had officially gained the title ‘President Trump,’ Scott Pruitt was busy denying something else: climate change. In early December, the Trump administration nominated Pruitt, the current Oklahoma Attorney General, to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. This decision, as with almost all decisions made by Trump so far, has been met with serious backlash.  

Pruitt, a Kentucky native, has spent the majority of his career fighting against the protection of the environment, instead of favoring the rights of large industries such as poultry and oil. While he has never outwardly denied his support for the EPA, he has sued the organization 14 times over the past seven years, a record number for any nominee. According to an article from the New York Times, Pruitt is also a member of “an alliance of Republican attorney generals who have united with the energy industry to fight President Obama’s environmental regulations”. While each of these aspects are troubling enough, individually combining these actions and attributing them to the man who could potentially be in charge of our environment for the next four years is almost something out of a horror movie.

Though Pruitt has yet to be confirmed as the head of the EPA, his past actions alone raise huge questions to the Trump administration, including but not limited to: what are you thinking?

This election and subsequent shift of power comes at a critical time for our world, where the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly known. Within the past two weeks, both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released reports saying that 2016 was the hottest year since record-keeping began in 1880. This revelation, while expected, does not come lightly. If we do not continue to fight for the protection of our environment, New York City will be underwater within decades. Of course, once Trump Tower is submerged maybe the President will finally have a reason to believe in the power of climate change.

While there have been plenty of conservative presidents in the past, each coming with their own points of view regarding climate change, none have outwardly denied it as forcefully as President Trump and his nominated administration. Former president George W. Bush found it “an issue we need to take very seriously,” and his father before him was nicknamed the “environmental president” during his campaign. Trump and Pruitt, however, seem as if they could care less about the issue.

While Trump has previously been known to care about large businesses, it seems as though his nominee feels the same way. Since 2002, Pruitt has received more than $300,000 from the fossil fuel industry, including a large sum from Murray Energy, the largest coal company in the country. But unfortunately for Pruitt, not all big names have endorsed him. Pruitt is the first candidate ever that the Environmental Defense Fund, a non-profit environmental advocacy group, has not supported.

Perhaps even more troubling is how Pruitt has dealt with environmental issues during his time as attorney general of Oklahoma. In short: he hasn’t. Pruitt has denied basic pollution facts that are even less refutable than climate change, and even shut down the Environmental Protection Unit within his state. How is America supposed to trust our environment to a man who has shown that he cares absolutely nothing about it?

To put it plainly, Scott Pruitt’s record and beliefs make him a terrible nominee to become the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In his entire career, he has done absolutely nothing to show that he cares about the environment, and in fact has proved the exact opposite. He has disagreed with over two thirds of the nation regarding climate change, and has denied the undeniable. If we have any hope left of continuing to clean up our environment and reverse the deterioration of the ozone layer that has already begun, we need to put our faith in someone else. Because, with Scott Pruitt, there is no hope left.


Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.hungaski@uconn.edu.