Yesterday Scott Pruitt announced a proposal to make a rule regarding science transparency. How serious is Pruitt about embracing transparency? So serious that zero reporters were allowed at the event.
But we spotted plenty of fossil-fueled deniers milling about the room before Pruitt’s announcement: Marc Morano and Craig Rucker of CFACT, William Happer of the CO2 Coalition, Myron Ebell of CEI. Introducing Pruitt, of course, was Lamar Smith.
With all those deniers present, there was apparently no room for real scientists. Then again, maybe they were invited but didn’t attend, as this policy has no support from science societies. In fact, most are opposed to it, as UCS explains in a blog post.
Also in opposition are nearly a thousand scientists, who sent Pruitt a letter this week saying the policy is an attempt to “weaponize ‘transparency’ to facilitate political interference in science-based decisionmaking” and will result in “policies and practices that will ignore significant risks to the health of every American.”
These implications for American health are not incidental, but are rather by design. As we’ve discussed before, the origin of Pruitt’s policy can be traced to the tobacco industry as a way to disqualify studies that show the dangers of secondhand smoke’s PM2.5 pollution. And since burning fossil fuels also release PM2.5, the folks who went from defending smoking to defending fossil fuels, like Steve Milloy, count this move as “Unbelievably YUGE WINNING!!!” and he said that it’s one of his “proudest achievements.”
We’d agree this move is unbelievable: before Trump’s election no one would believe that a tobacco lobbyist turned fossil fuel defender would successfully lobby the EPA to deliberately handicap how it protects public health. And as far as anyone can be proud of a policy that will absolve industry of sickening and killing Americans, Milloy should certainly be proud of this achievement.
By indulging this far-right pro-polluter policy, Pruitt’s proving that he’s going to do whatever it takes to shore up support from industry groups, because even the GOP has begun to question his ever-rising scandals. The most shocking example of the danger he’s in is that even Senator Jim “Snowball” Inhofe, whose former staffers Pruitt hired all across the EPA, said that if some of the allegations about Pruitt’s scandals are true, he should step down.
It’s not just Inhofe making noise in the GOP: four House Republicans have called on Pruitt to resign, while the others, like Trey Gowdy have expressed increasing worry about Pruitt.
The most compelling reason to suspect Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA won’t last much longer is that, per Bloomberg, the White House has “discouraged lawmakers from vigorously defending the administrator.” And then yesterday a White House official told Robin Bravender of E&E that "White House staff believe pretty uniformly that this guy is going to be fired soon.”
Yikes. With the White House telling Pruitt’s defenders to step down, his days atop EPA must be numbered.
Perhaps fitting, then, that he goes out with this One Last Smoke before facing the “You’re Fired!” squad.
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