The Truth About EPA Chief Scott Pruitt’s ‘Scandals’

Justin Haskins Heartland Institute
Published March 1, 2017

Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s newly appointed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, told CPAC on Saturday that he wants to roll back suffocating Obama-era environmental regulations and return the agency to environmental sanity.

“What has happened over the past several years, is the previous administration was so focused on climate change and so focused on CO2 that some of those other priorities were left behind,” Pruitt said, according to a report in The Hill.

The comments came just days after additional reports surfaced showing that while Pruitt was Oklahoma’s attorney general, he communicated and even collaborated with energy companies in his state.

This is the stuff of nightmares for environmentalists on the Left, who believe Pruitt is nothing more than a yes-man for “greedy” oil and gas companies hell-bent on destroying Earth and sending us all into a post-apocalyptic global-warming-induced hellscape. Imagine “Mad Max” meets “The Day After Tomorrow” and you’ll get the idea.

Of course, Pruitt has never said under his leadership EPA would end all environmental regulations or allow private industry operating across state lines to destroy the environment.

“We as Republicans don’t have anything to be apologetic about with respect to the environment — nothing,” Pruitt said at CPAC. “We have always believed that you can grow jobs, grow an economy, while also doing what? Being a good steward of the environment.”

For far-Left environmentalists, who have a firm grip on the Democratic Party, this isn’t good enough. They want an EPA that’s going to strangle private property rights and create and enforce regulations like the EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, which under its original form would give the EPA power to regulate almost any body of water in the country. They see Pruitt’s connections to the energy industry as a vile threat to that pursuit, and they’ve worked hard since Pruitt was nominated to undermine his credibility with the public.

But these alleged “scandals” showing Pruitt working closely with the energy industry in his state are, thus far, baseless and absurd. Just because Pruitt worked with and agreed with some leaders in his state’s energy industry doesn’t mean he’s going to do anything they want, and there’s absolutely no evidence Pruitt did anything illegal or unethical.

The Left constantly argues that anyone who agrees with an industry must be beholden to that industry, but using the same logic, it’s reasonable to say the Left is beholden to its own interests as well. Environmentalists say their only goal is to protect the environment, but many of the leading “environmentalists,” like former Vice President Al Gore, have had significant ties to green-energy industries, and virtually all of the leaders of the modern environmental movement have close connections to radical environmental zealots and government interests.

For instance,’s Bill McKibben served on the Democratic Party’s platform standing committee in 2016. McKibben not only opposes using virtually any form of traditional energy, he also has been a longstanding advocate of population control.

David Graber, a former biologist with the National Parks Service and an academic, once said, “We are not interested in the utility of a particular species, of a free-flowing river, or ecosystem to mankind. They have intrinsic value, more value — to me — than another human being, or a billion of them.”

The Sierra Club, one of the leaders of the modern environmental movement, announced it “opposes the licensing, construction and operation of new nuclear reactors … pending development of adequate national and global policies to curb energy over-use and unnecessary economic growth.”

That’s right, unnecessary economic growth. These are the kind of lunatics that serve as an influential wing of the allegedly compassionate and considerate environmental movement. Why is it that Democrats’ connections to these people and organizations aren’t evidence of radicalism and bias?

Further, big government is an industry, too. It has thousands upon thousands of employees, trillions of dollars, and more power than any private corporation ever could. The idea that advancing big government means promoting a safe environment is wildly idealistic.

None of this is to say there aren’t some legitimate questions about Pruitt and his past. According to a recent Washington Examiner report, “Fox 25 in Oklahoma City reported Friday that Pruitt used a private email to conduct state business during his time in office, which is not illegal in Oklahoma. However, it does directly contradict Pruitt’s written and spoken testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last month.”

If Pruitt did use a private e]mail server to conduct state business and deliberately misled Congress about it, he should face serious consequences. But if the biggest complaint the Left can make about Pruitt is that he wants to work with businesses to ensure a proper balance between economic growth and environmental protection exists, then liberals will continue to find themselves out of power for the foreseeable future.

[Originally Published at the Washington Examiner]