President Donald Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the agency charged with protecting the environment. The nomination of Pruitt, who has sued the EPA a total of 13 times, has caused many Democrat officials to speak out because of his trivializing of climate change. In addition, Pruitt has referred to himself as the “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”
Both Democrat officials and environmentally based groups have voiced their opinion on the new EPA nominee, often quite aggressively.
“During the campaign, Mr. Trump regularly threatened to dismantle the EPA and roll back many of the gains made to reduce Americans’ exposures to industrial pollution,” said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization based in Washington. “With Pruitt, the president-elect would make good on those threats.”
However, while blue state Americans might be concerned about the Pruitt pick, red state Republicans say that the new head of the EPA is a breath of fresh air in an agency famous for issuing federal regulations that limit greenhouse gas emissions.
“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” said Pruitt, who served as Oklahoma’s Attorney General. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress.”
In addition to efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change, the EPA is also responsible for a broad range of studies and regulations meant to ensure clean drinking water and air. For instance, in one study the EPA reported that only 2% of plastic bags are recycled in the U.S., and the agency has spent a lot of time and energy trying to improve the environment. Now, many people are nervous that the EPA’s new direction might stir up more environmental controversies.
According to NPR, scientists at the EPA who want to publish their scientific findings or present their material will need to have their work reviewed by the new Trump administration on a “case by case basis” moving forwards.
“We’ll take a look at what’s happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that’s going to reflect the new administration,” said Doug Ericksen, the head of communications for Trump’s EPA transition team.
The new plan could potentially contradict the EPA’s current scientific integrity policy, which prohibits “all EPA employees, including scientists, managers, and other Agency leadership from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.”
It’s still early, however, and the new administration may have a better idea of how to move forward after they gather their bearings.
“We’re on day two here,” Ericksen added. “You’ve got to give us a few days to get our feet underneath us.”
Pruitt is still awaiting confirmation, after which he will take over as the new EPA administrator for the Trump administration.