Pruitt 2.0

BY ON July 9, 2018

shanahan environmental cartoon

Recent top headlines focused on two stories: Family separation of immigrants seeking asylum at America’s southern border, and the “exit” of Scott Pruitt from the helm of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Upon initial reflection, these two narratives may appear unrelated. Yet further examination reveals the thread which palpably connects the two.

The connective tissue is the defective moral compass that has been the hallmark of the Trump administration from day one.

Women’s voices have been at the forefront of resistance to Trump’s outrageous behavior. The ranks are diverse; all ages and backgrounds. Mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and those without children have stepped up.

Why? Because women are the key caretakers of future generations.

Domestically, women’s reaction to the country’s frightening challenges — brought on by Trump — have been robust. Just as mothers understand the pain of counterparts trying to save their children from violence and desperate situations, and that children must be defended against the horrors of unregulated guns, they also get that deregulating environmental regulations spells disaster.

The people who are seeking asylum from oppressive conditions — like waves of immigrants to the shores of America before them — are not “illegal aliens.” One would hope that any American of ethical decency would be outraged about children being torn from their parents.

Wouldn’t any mother or father take action to protect their kids?

The misdeeds of Pruitt was emblematic of the pervasive lack of concern for the common good within the Trump administration. His self-enriching schemes for himself and his wife were hardly out of place in that morally corrupt universe.

The Pruitt sideshow had a long run. The search for a used Trump Hotel mattress and treasure hunts for hand lotion were a deflection from the fact that Pruitt was actively dismantling established safeguards against coal-fired plants.

A top voice for walking away from the 2015 Paris agreement, Pruitt curried favor with his boss by diligently working to demolish the environmental gains of President Obama. He took a sledge hammer to the protections against industrial air pollution, clean car standards, and the reduction of the fossil fuels which are accelerating global warming.

Gleefully mocking settled science, Pruitt squarely placed himself in the climate denier space. Despite ongoing warnings from the military and journalists like Thomas Friedman — both who have outlined the correlation between extreme weather conditions, migration, social upheaval and terrorism — Pruitt stuck with those who brought him to the party — the top oil and gas magnates who were counting their dollars.

Andrew K. Wheeler, now the “acting EPA administrator, could prove even more problematic than Pruitt. He has all the same goals for dismantling health protective regulations.

Serving for the past several years as a lobbyist for the coal industry, Wheeler also worked for Sen. James Inhofe (of snowball fame). He is part of the Oklahoma cabal that has created a record for their state that’s not a winner: Earthquakes as a result of fracking wastewater injections. Wheeler also has a close relationship with Robert Murray, CEO of the Murray Energy Corporation, who has a message on his company’s website lamenting “excessive federal government regulations” from the Obama administration.

Using a stealth approach combined with policy chops to design legislation that can withstand legal challenges, Wheeler is primed to carry out the worst-case scenario. He may remain as acting administrator through the mid-term elections, or possibly longer.

This is the core commonality: Zero concern for ethical actions over benefits for the corporate good.

Yet, there is still a long way to go before many Americans throw in the towel.

Check out the new group, Immigrant Families Together. An Arizona newspaper ran a story titled, “These moms united to help immigrant mother rejoin separated kids in NYC.” It outlined the joint strategy of raising money to pay bond for Yeni Gonzalez Garcia, separated from her children at the border, and then to transport her to New York. Nine individual drivers — in a 21st century “underground railroad” of sorts — reunited her with her family.

Meghan Finn, quoted in the Arizona report stated, “We’re just a bunch of moms.” She explained that the organizing group was “mostly women,” adding that being a mother was a coincidence, not a requirement.

Pruitt’s gone. Wheeler will probably be Pruitt 2.0.

What doesn’t change is that on-the-ground women are a formidable force for change.

Ultimately, we will prevail.

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TOPICS: Activism, Clean Air Rules and Regulations, Climate Change, Coal, EPA, Politics