Last week the United States Senate approved Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head the country’s Environmental Protection Agency. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt fought against the EPA on a range of issues in support of the oil and gas industry and his appointment bodes ill for the Agency, the country and even the world as he is likely to roll back as much of Barack Obama’s environmental legacy as the courts will allow.
That Donald Trump would nominate such a person for the job says a lot about Donald Trump and the interests he defends. What is shocking is that Republican Lawmakers with a long and distinguished career would go along with it.
Only one of the 52 Republican Senators voted against the appointment and that was Susan Collins of Maine who rightly is concerned. On her web site she wrote:
“Specifically, I have significant concerns that Mr. Pruitt has actively opposed and sued EPA on numerous issues that are of great importance to the state of Maine, including mercury controls for coal-fired power plants and efforts to reduce cross-state air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. His actions leave me with considerable doubts about whether his vision for the EPA is consistent with the Agency’s critical mission to protect human health and the environment.”
John McCain, who had earned the respect of many in his 35 years of public service as well as his time in the United States Navy did not join Senator Collins in standing up for the environment and instead made a statement saying “I believe Attorney General Pruitt will do an excellent job in reining-in the EPA and ensuring this administration complies with the laws of our nation.” This does not seem to be the same John McCain who co-sponsored climate change leglislation in 2003!
McCain did manage to get out of Washington so he would not have to vote for Pruitt but he was not missed as two Democratic Senators from West Virginia and North Dakota joined with the Republicans.
Short term irresponsibility
The argument used by McCain and others is that under President Obama, the EPA went beyond its mandate and that the former President used the Agency’s rule making ability to go further than congress would have allowed.
Perhaps the most significant of these measures was the Clean Power Plan which came into effect in August, 2015, and is a key part of how the U.S. will live up to its commitment to China and the world to lower the per capita carbon footprint of the United States.
Trump promises great jobs in the coal industry but I doubt he has ever been inside a coal mine or seen the impact of what happens when a tailing dam collapses. The real jobs are in renawables and energy efficiency.
Obama’s vision of the United States leading the world in developing clean and renewable energy sources will have to wait and most likely China will emerge as the winner in the end.