EPA leader must be fired for denying basic science

By JONATHAN PATTERSON | April 19, 2018

With the recent resignation of now former Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert, the list of newly unemployed, former high-level White House and federal officials grows. 

To date, over 20 top-level officials within the Trump administration, including a secretary of state, a White House chief of staff and two national security advisors, have either resigned or been fired. 

Notably avoiding the axe to this point, though, has been the embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt. 

Mr. Pruitt is currently at the center of a scandal involving spending abuses and unethically close connections with lobbyists. As scrutiny intensifies on Mr. Pruitt, some are already calling for his resignation, myself included. 

My concern with Mr. Pruitt, however, goes far beyond his potentially corrupt misgivings and recent turmoil. 

I was not a fan of Mr. Pruitt when he was nominated to lead the EPA in December of 2016, nor was I a fan of his work as attorney general of Oklahoma. 

The reason I opposed Scott Pruitt back then, and the reason I still oppose him now: He is dangerously anti-science. 

I don’t just believe Mr. Pruitt should resign now, I’ll go a step further and say he should never have been hired in the first place. 

He’s not so much underqualified for the job of EPA administrator as much as he should be disqualified from it. 

Placing a man that has sued the EPA 14 times in charge of the agency gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “fox guarding the hen house.” 

Mr. Pruitt’s track record against the very agency he now leads should not come to the public as a surprise. In the four races for public office Mr. Pruitt has ran in throughout his career, he has received over $350,000 of campaign donations from the energy lobby.

Additionally, as John Oliver so brilliantly pointed out on his show Last Week Tonight, Scott Pruitt’s actual Linkedin page still states that Mr. Pruitt “is a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” 

But then again, I suppose Mr. Pruitt’s Linkedin page is still accurate, as Mr. Pruitt has yet to accept the basic scientific facts about climate change. 

He refused to acknowledge carbon dioxide as a cause of climate change, argued that rising temperatures are not necessarily a bad thing, repealed the Clean Power Plan (which aimed to lower carbon dioxide emissions) and spread his scientific ignorance into official EPA talking points. 

The EPA is tasked with matters of public health and the environment, and with the ever increasing danger that climate change poses to both us and our planet, the EPA’s role in shaping the federal government’s policy concerning climate change is more important than it ever has been. 

“People who deny basic science should never be allowed to lead the EPA.”

Scott Pruitt cannot continue to lead the EPA because at this moment, more than ever, we need the EPA to be a scientific stronghold within Washington, D.C., not a center of denial. 

In order to shape policy that will curb the effects of climate change, the EPA needs people who will embrace its so-called ‘activist agenda,’ because whether Mr. Pruitt or the lobbyist whose D.C. condo Mr. Pruitt used to live in want to believe it or not, climate change is in fact a bad thing. 

Now for those concerned that Scott Pruitt’s removal will open the door for former coal lobbyist turned EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler to lead the EPA, the solution to that problem is very simple: Fire him too. 

The President has already fired two high level deputies (Sally Yates and Andrew McCabe) and reportedly has plans to fire a third (Rod Rosenstein), so what’s one more to the list?

I know that it is unlikely that the President will fire either of these two, at least for the reasons I propose. However, that does not mean it is the wrong thing to do. 

Climate change is arguably the gravest threat we as a species face today, and its deleterious effects have become increasingly noticeable with every passing year. In the long run, the longer we enable climate-deniers and the very corporations making the situation worse, the gloomier the future will look. 

The bottom line is quite simple: People who deny basic science research and have consistently lined their pockets with the money of polluting energy companies should never be allowed to lead the EPA. 

For an administration whose personnel management philosophy appears to most closely resemble that of passengers fleeing a sinking ship, throwing Scott Pruitt overboard next should not be a problem. 

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