Over the past year, we’ve kept a close eye on the questionable legality of Pruitt’s industry-driven sabotage of the EPA’s Science Advisory Boards. Now, emails obtained via FOIA by The Sierra Club and covered by Politico Friday reveal that last August, major Republican donor Doug Deason passed Pruitt a list of suggested new board members compiled by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an industry front group. (By the way, Deason’s on the TPPF board.)
The person who assembled the TPPF list was apparently Kathleen Hartnett-White, who withdrew from her nomination to head up the Council on Environmental Quality after an absolutely disastrous Senate hearing. With this administration, corruption seems to always be paired with incompetence.
One of Hartnett-White’s top recommendations, per Deason’s list, was Michael Honeycutt, who Pruitt ultimately selected last October as chair of the board. Honeycutt, a key player in Pruitt’s War on Air Pollution Science, is a rare breed, doubting not just climate science but also denying the even more rudimentary and well-established link between particulate matters and public health.
Even with a slate of Pruitt-appointed members, when the board (finally) met for the first time since Trump’s election a couple weeks ago, it decided to examine a variety of Pruitt’s efforts. The board members will take a look at Pruitt’s shoddy excuses for repealing the Clean Power Plan, including the social cost of carbon calculations; the oil and gas industry’s methane rules; the fuel efficiency rule and the glider truck rule, as well as the pro-polluter secret science policy.
We’re hopeful that despite Pruitt’s industry advocates on the board, this will be a thorough review, and that it will provide an indisputable body of evidence detailing the arbitrary and capricious (and therefore illegal) nature of Pruitt’s policies.
First, though, Pruitt has to agree to accept the board’s recommendation to review the policies, then actually provide them with the requested information. Given that Pruitt ignored past invitations to meet with the group, and that he doesn’t exactly seem like the type that’s eager for scientific feedback, whether or not he takes the offer remains to be seen.
And of course it will take some time for the group to study the different issues and come to some sort of agreement as to a recommendation.
This fall, Pruitt will get another chance to appease his industry masters by replacing SAB members whose appointments are expiring with those more amenable to his pro-polluter policies.
But by that point, who knows how many other mattresses and lotions and fast food franchises and weird grifty scandals Scott Fancy Little Snack Boy Pruitt will have seen, and how many of the fake Pruitt headlines will have come true.
Maybe Pruitt will have bigger problems by then, what with the emerging potential for a criminal investigation into his misuse of his position. Or that Trump recently said he thinks Pruitt “is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA,” but ended the thought with an ominous “we’ll see what happens.”
We can’t wait.
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