Tag Archives: EPA

Scott Pruitt – Destroyer of Worlds

Do you know how many soldiers make up a platoon in the U.S. Army? While answers vary by source, there appears to be consensus around a size of 16 to 60 soldiers. Thus, the security detail demanded by Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s appointee as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, numbering at least 20 is the equivalent of having a full-time platoon of American soldiers for “protection.” Exactly what Pruitt is so afraid of remains an open question.

On the one hand, we have Pruitt stealing, in effect, from the public through a multitude of unjustifiable first-class trips, installation of a “secure phone booth” costing more than $40,000, and other over-the-top charges for his office rework. On the other hand (or is it the same hand?), we have a man who, before his appointment by Trump was firmly entrenched as a public official in Oklahoma with the industries seeking to exploit the environment for private gain, now using his federal office to further reward those same industries and companies.

Thinking of Pruitt’s tenure as EPA head brings to mind Robert Oppenheimer, a famous physicist who led the Los Alamos Laboratory and is credited, with others, as being the “father of the atomic bomb” for his role in the World War II Manhattan Project that created the first such bomb. After observing the test firing in New Mexico, Oppenheimer later said it drew to his mind the words from the ancient Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Pruitt, of course, appears to know little of science and to care nothing about it in any event. His worldview appears to be that Earth is here for one reason, the unlimited exploitation of its resources by mankind, through the vehicles of mining, logging, drilling, whatever it takes and wherever is desired. Thus, in the space of a little more than a year, Pruitt has:

  • spent millions on his personal around-the-clock security, including salaries ranging from $103,000 to nearly $162,000
  • slashed the working budget of EPA by about 30 percent;
  • claimed that threats against him have sky-rocketed, but there are no public reports of arrests or prosecutions;
  • flown on charter flights and first-class flights that included putting his security detail in first-class, with the excuse that being in first-class means they can exit the plane faster; when paying for his own travel, Pruitt flew coach;
  • rolled back auto fuel-efficiency rules;
  • promoted Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord;
  • directed payment of extraordinary bonuses of 30 & 52 percent to two close aides who joined him from Oklahoma;
  • taken adverse job actions against professional agency staff who questioned his spending/travel practices;
  • insisted that vehicles in his entourage use lights & sirens when moving through Washington streets to attend dinners;
  • rented a room from the wife of a lobbyist with business before the EPA;
  • denied, contrary to the evidence, that he authorized the excessive raises or that he approved the $43,000 installation of a sound-proof booth in his office, including biometric door locks and other security features more appropriate for a banana-republic dictator;
  • incurred frequent high-cost luxury accommodation charges, seeking approval after-the-fact;
  • accepted expense reimbursements from groups with business before the EPA;
  • rescinded, often with limited process, rules protecting the water, air and national parks, allowing uncontrolled exploitation of unique national resources without regard to the consequences.

In light of those and other legal/ethical lapses, the Washington Post has called for Pruitt’s firing, but Trump continues to support him because he is executing Trump’s plan to undo every environmental protection he can find. If there’s one thing Trump hates as much as exposure of his own corruption, it’s Obama-era environmental regulations. He wants them all gone and Pruitt is just the man to do his, and the exploitative industries’, bidding.

Pruitt is on par with the likes of Ben Carson, Trump’s appointed head of the Housing & Urban Development agency, for which Carson had zero qualifications, and Ryan Zinke, Trump’s appointed Secretary of the Interior, who repeatedly calls himself a “geologist,” based solely on having a college major in geology 34 years ago, and whose principal goal appears to be reducing the size of national parks so they can be exploited for minerals, oil and gas. Scott Pruitt sees his charge as clearing the way for unregulated commercial exploitation by private firms of the nation’s precious natural resources, including its clean water and air.

It is extremely unlikely that such a person would have been allowed to continue in office overseeing an agency whose legally established purpose is the exact opposite of Trump’s and Pruitt’s agenda. The Republican controlled Congress, however, continues to tolerate this situation and is thus complicit in the crimes against nature and humanity that this administration is perpetrating in the interest of enriching already wealthy corporations and individuals.

You have read it here before, but it bears repeating. We are facing a grave threat to our well-being as a people and as a country. Absent the bringing of criminal indictments and impeachment against Trump, the 2018 mid-term elections are the next real opportunity to regain the upper hand before it is too late. You should tell everyone you know that is capable of independent thought and reason why they must vote in November for Democrats, and why they must help others in need of assistance in getting to the polls and fulfilling their citizen responsibilities. This is not a drill.

Sources for this post: https://cnn.it/2vlJVOb; https://bit.ly/2J5LRwm; https://politi.co/2qD1hBg; https://wapo.st/2qFXBho; https://nyti.ms/2Eoc7iC;https://bit.ly/2JVc1De; https://bit.ly/2qfdACU; https://bzfd.it/2J6g0LZ; https://nyti.ms/2H40tiY; https://politi.co/2viE7F0.

 

EPA Docket on Re-Evaluating Regulations Is Open Through Monday

The Environmental Protection Agency docket in which the agency will carry out Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” is open through the end of Monday, May 15. To file comments, go to: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190-0042. It is a simple process. As of this writing, 50,557 comments have been filed. You can see them by clicking on the Open Docket Folder link. Most are very short and filed anonymously. One of the reasons for the anonymity is that the online comment forms do not expressly ask for identification. They used to do this routinely but not in this case.

In any event, I have not read all of the comments, obviously, but it’s a fair guess that the vast majority are from individuals arguing that the environmental regulations were adopted for good and sufficient reasons to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink and the ecosystem on which life on the Earth depends for its diversity and survival. Whether these comments will have any influence remains to be seen, but it is certain that if the people do not speak up, the Trump administration is simply going to roll over us.

Here is the comment I filed, shorter than I’d like but time constraints being what they are, this is all I could do. If you are inclined to file, feel free to echo my thoughts. It would be best not to simple repeat them, however, as EPA will ignore anything it believes is a “mass mailing” input. Or just read a few of the other public comments and say what you believe. Let’s not let the administration eviscerate the environment without putting up some resistance. Here is what I filed:

“This process is designed to fulfill a political agenda rather than being a science-based re-evaluation of regulations that have had some demonstrable unintended effects. It is therefore a misguided exercise. Undoing environmental regulations that were adopted after notice and hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act requires similar procedural processes and safeguards, including cost benefit analyses published for public evaluation and input before action is proposed and again after specific actions are proposed with stated rationales and science-based evidence. Any program designed to change regulations that is based on denial of the reality of climate change is inherently defective and may not serve as a lawful basis for altering existing environmental regulations.”

Trump Administration Climate Science Deniers Are Risking Crimes Against Humanity

As the affronts to science, human dignity, and the very viability of the planet continue to multiply, through climate change denial and evisceration of the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, the question naturally arises: when and how will those responsible be held accountable for the damage they are doing, or facilitating, to the Earth? For surely the day of reckoning is coming and possibly sooner than many people think. When rising sea levels, crop failures, unprecedentedly destructive storms and other natural disasters begin to impair the water supply and food supply of the “comfortable countries,” like the United States and much of Western Europe, against whom will the public turn? And what punishment will they demand as they face the realization that the science deniers have fooled them into believing a false idea that has led to the destruction of their world? Will it even matter at that point?

A few things seem somewhat clear. While it is within reason to interpret “climate change denial” policy actions as a “crime against humanity” under existing usages of that term (specifically, the “extermination” of an entire population), the United States has never ratified the Rome Statute of The International Criminal Court and thus there is no international body with plausible jurisdiction to punish the leaders of the United States for what they are inflicting on the rest of the world by, for example, denying that carbon dioxide is a meaningful contributor to global warming. http://wapo.st/2mRiia3.

Given the Trump administration’s determined effort to gut the EPA, it will remain to the American people to punish those who, by willful ignorance or worse, have traded away the health and well-being of future generations for a few pieces of silver. Of all the crimes likely being committed by the Trump administration, including blatant conflicts of interest to interfering with the reasoned development of regulations that, properly understood, are “protections” for the people, the undermining of work to manage climate change is the most serious. The consequences of unchecked climate change will at some point become irreversible. That outcome will be directly traceable to the decisions of this administration to unleash the forces of pollution and environmental degradation without meaningful restraint or even requirements to report on what the industries are doing that negatively affects the environment.

If any of my readers doubt the certainty of what I am saying, I can only urge you to read some of the respected works on the subject that are readily available. The Sixth Extinction is a good example. There is no more important issue because the very existence of life on the planet depends on it. The actions being taken by the Trump administration are occurring without the benefit of public hearings or other meaningful input. Trump and his ideologues already know everything they want to know, no matter how inadequate.

The March for Science is on Earth Day, April 22. The Peoples’ Climate Movement March is April 29. If you care about this issue, you should add your body and those of your family to this mass demonstration in support of science and in support of the air you breath and the water you drink. Take to the streets with the masses of others who will be there to protest, peacefully but loudly, against the Trump administration’s crimes against humanity.