Opinion: Pruitt’s EPA confirmation means the wrong man got the job



Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator-designate Scott Pruitt answer a reporter’s question during his meeting with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Emma Dowker and Katie Zemaitis

Scott Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate today in a 52-46 vote to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, despite Pruitt advocating in the past to abolish the EPA and participating in 14 earlier lawsuits against the agency.

“I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom of American businesses,” Pruitt said today. However, Pruitt described himself to the Washington Post last year as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.”

How can Pruitt responsibly protect the environment if he openly expresses interest in abolishing the agency designed exclusively to protect it? Regardless of one’s party affiliation or political agenda, it is common knowledge that the administrator of any agency should not actively and consistently oppose it.

Pruitt sued the EPA on four separate occasions when the agency unveiled the Clean Power Plan, which would limit the amount of carbon dioxide pollution emitted into the air. If Pruitt plans to protect the environment as he previously stated, allowing unlimited amounts of carbon dioxide into the air that people breathe is definitely not the best way to pursue this goal.

Access to clean and breathable air is not a radical idea. All human beings, regardless of political ideology, are fundamentally entitled to livable conditions, and breathable air is an obvious necessity to life on Earth.

Pruitt’s confirmation as head of the EPA is far more than a debatable, political issue. It is now his principal responsibility to protect clean air, water, and basic necessities vital to human life. The EPA protects not only the environment, but natural resources people literally cannot live without. If Pruitt wants to responsibly protect the environment, abolishing his own agency is not the best way to do it.