During a remarkable hearing on the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, one tactic became clear: Pruitt ran away from his own record. (Tweet this)
In an effort to sound reasonable, Pruitt said, over and over again, that he was for the regulation of mercury, of ground level ozone, of heat-trapping carbon dioxide.
None of this is true. Pruitt has actually sued EPA, over and over again, on behalf of, and paid by, fossil fuel interests. He has sued to block mercury protections — and not on technical grounds, as he claimed. That’s clear in the suits themselves. He has sued to block ground level ozone rules. He has sued against America’s Clean Power Plan, which would cut the climate pollution that, in Oklahoma alone, is causing record droughts and heat waves and wildfires.
By coincidence, the hearings were taking place as scientists announced that the planet reached the dubious distinction of setting a heat record and having, for the first time in recorded history, trounced the the previous record three years in a row. “What’s going on in the Arctic is …. ridiculously off the chart,” said Gavin A. Schmidt of NASA.
Pruitt even sued to stop the “Good Neighbor Rule”— even though it would keep Texas from contributing huge amounts of the pollution that creates haze over swaths of Oklahoma. More than a dozen Oklahoma counties get an F for air quality. But Pruitt could not name a single action he took as AG to bring his state into attainment.
Pruitt’s record, what he has actually done, versus what he is saying, is clear: he has built a political and legal career on protecting the interests of the oil and gas industry. He has done nothing to protect the health of families in Oklahoma. Nothing indicates a commitment to protecting America’s children.
Throughout the daylong hearing, I kept thinking about Pruitt’s own beloved son and daughter (above), sitting behind them. One graduating from college, the other about to enter. I kept wondering how Pruitt could simply ignore the world’s scientists, warning us that our carbon and methane pollution are now triggering irreversible damage to our planet. I kept wondering — doesn’t he care about their future, or that of the grandchildren he might one day have? What makes him — and all these other top officials who simply lie about the validity of climate science — what makes him think his family will escape harm?
Pruitt criticized EPA for using its regulatory power to “pick winners and losers” among fuel sources — ignoring the billions of dollars that the oil and gas industry gets every year in subsidies and tax breaks. U.S. taxpayers have been paying for fossil fuels to be the winners — for almost a century.
The vote to confirm Pruitt will likely split along party lines. This is a shame, because clean air protections should transcend party politics.
You can be sure, however, that if Pruitt is confirmed, Moms will hold him to his declaration that EPA ought to regulate greenhouse gases, and mercury, and ozone.