EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt recently introduced himself to the public in an 11-minute speech. I tuned in, because our work with EPA is so important in protecting our children’s health—and their futures.
Pruitt’s speech was clever. He co-opted the spirits of Alexander Hamilton and John Muir, and he mentioned a couple of values he holds dear. We do too.
Civility, for instance.
Pruitt mentioned that civility was important. We agree. We look forward to watching Pruitt end the disrespect with which he has talked about EPA’s work. We are listening for signs that he honors and respects the hard work and devotion to public health that so many on the EPA staff have put in, for decades.
Pruitt mentioned the “toxic environment.” We agree. We look forward to watching Pruitt end his contribution to this painful environment. Going after employees with threats of crippling the agency to which many have dedicated their entire careers does not contribute to a healthy working environment.
Pruitt mentioned respecting the “rule of law.” We agree. The Supreme Court ruled—in 2007—that greenhouse gases like carbon and methane pose a danger to our health and must be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. So, we look forward to watching Pruitt tackle the devastating problem of climate change.
Pruitt mentioned the importance of process. We agree. Past administrators have shown a disciplined respect for process, and for listening for dissent as well as agreement. There is no need for Pruitt to add to the toxicity of the environment by implying that past administrators have run chaotic shows. It is simply not true, and not civil, to suggest as much.
Pruitt mentioned that America does not have to choose between a clean environment and a healthy economy. We agree. We’ve been saying this for years. It is the polluters who have complained—and sued, with Pruitt leading the charge—against what they call “job killing regulations”—even while they have made record profits. The Clean Air Act has been taking care of air pollution for decades, even as the American economy has grown.
What Pruitt did not mention: People. Climate change. Air pollution. Water pollution. Health—whether the health of our children, our elderly, our poor, our workers—anyone’s health, and especially those of us most vulnerable to the toxicity of dirty air, dirty water, and a chaotic climate.
The word “health” never once crossed Pruitt’s lips. A grave omission, this mom feels.
As I promised you, I will be watching carefully to see what Pruitt actually does with EPA in the coming months. Moms generally feel that actions speak louder than words. We will see whether his vision inclines towards corporate profits at the expense of public health.
An official with the Chamber of Commerce recently warned: “There will are hell to pay from soccer moms and dad if the Trump administration pushes us backwards.”
We will continue to be civil—as we always have. But we will not be silent.