Something seems fundamentally wrong with teachers who dislike children, veterinarians who hate animals, and people who head institutions they seek to destroy. On a completely unrelated note, the United States Senate confirmed Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Feb. 17.
Pruitt has long been an opponent of the EPA and a denialist of climate change. At his Senate confirmation hearing on Feb. 15, Pruitt criticized federal rules protecting air, water, and fighting climate change and instead advocated for states’ rights in environmental regulation. According to The New York Times investigation of his emails (ironic, isn’t it?), Pruitt allegedly formed an alliance with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push against environmental regulations the Obama Administration wanted to enact.
On Aug. 13, 2015, 44th President Barack Obama and the EPA announced the Clean Power Plan in order to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants. Accusing the EPA of overstepping its authority, however, Pruitt has been a prominent opponent of the Clean Power Plan. Additionally, Pruitt has sued the EPA 14 times in an effort to block federal air and water pollution regulations, according to The New York Times. These 14 cases include challenging:
- The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule
- Placing limits on mercury pollution
- Placing limits on mercury pollution (for a second time)
- The EPA effort to reduce ozone pollution
- The EPA rule limiting pollution during power plant shutdowns or malfunctions
- The EPA plan to protect scenic vistas in certain national parks
- Clean air standards for oil and gas drilling and production sites
- The determination that greenhouse gas pollution endangers health and environment
- The Clean Power Plan
- The Clean Power Plan (for a second time)
- The Clean Power Plan (for the third time)
- The Clean Power Plan (for the fourth time)
- Carbon pollution standards for new power plants
- The Clean Water Rule
It’s not an overreaction to say that this is absolutely absurd for many reasons. First off, these challenges are preposterous. Who cares about the mercury content in our food? It’s not as if mercury exposure at high levels can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. The ozone layer can die; we don’t need it to protect us from ultraviolet rays. Oh, and screw the national parks. I never liked Yellowstone, anyway. All jokes aside, though, what’s possibly even more flabbergasting about this all is that Pruitt, the 14-time EPA sue-r, now leads the EPA.
On climate change, Pruitt has said, “Science tells us that the climate is changing and human activity in some manner impacts that change. The human ability to measure with precision the extent of that impact is subject to continuing debate and dialogue, as well they should be.”
Contrary to Pruitt’s statement, however, is a 2013 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group. Exploring signs of climate change as it relates to human actions, the report states, “Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes…This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”
It’s not just this specific report that has provided convincing evidence of the relationship between humans and climate change, either. An overwhelming number of scientists have backed this notion, and the EPA website provides detailed information of human-caused climate change. “Wait, Climate Change is Real?” (a shameless plug and compilation of EPA climate change information)
Placing a man in charge of an agency he has sued and openly opposed should sound all of the alarms, but while Pruitt is a less than ideal EPA Administrator, some may still wonder: why does this matter?
Under “America First Energy Plan” on the White House website, the President Donald Trump’s Administration states that it is “committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.” Yes, you read that right – coal. It’s the black stuff that naughty children are supposed to receive on Christmas Day; a mass of
carbon and hydrocarbons known for creating emissions that can cause cancer, amongst other health problems; combustible sedimentary rocks used to heat homes and generate electricity in the 19th century. No, don’t pull your reading glasses out; that really said “19th century.”
It’s currently the 21st century, and from the looks of it, Pruitt might just renew the nonrenewable coal and revive the coal industry. All conservation efforts and environmental improvements made in the last couple years could go to waste. All education and discovery regarding the protection of the environment could disappear.
That’s why it’s up to the people to stand up for years of scientific research pointing toward the human causes of climate change and for, quite simply, the protection of the environment. Many Twitter accounts like Rogue NASA and Alt U.S. National Park Service have been created to oppose the new Administration’s attitude toward the environment. Besides continuing dialogue on the matter, there are many actions to take in support of conserving the environment, as detailed in “Wait, Climate Change is Real?” And if the EPA ceases to protect the environment, the people will.