In his Inaugural Address, Republican President Richard Nixon emphasized the importance of being good stewards of our environment. He laid out goals that included monitoring vehicle emissions and the prevention of dumping waste in the Great Lakes. Nixon’s ambitious environmental agenda inspired him to create the EPA to safeguard our land, water, air, human health, and wildlife.
In Nixon’s State of the Union addresses, he proposed spending $10 billion for a nationwide clean water program and spoke of the importance of clean air, combatting pollution, and preserving the natural beauty of the nation. Nixon’s creation of the EPA eventually led to the Clean Air Act of 1972.
How times have changed.
It is a tragic commentary on the state of our politics that clean air and water, allowing animals to live peacefully in the wild, maintaining the beauty and privacy of our land, and preserving the health of our citizens has become a partisan issue. The political water has become so muddied and people so easily deceived that millions of people have been duped into arguing against their own self-interests by special interests.
How did environmental protection become so political? Powerful, wealthy corporate fossil fuel and animal agriculture executives whose businesses pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate in which all living beings exist, that which every American should hold dear, have disproportionately corrupted the Republican party and its standard-bearer.
Nixon would be aghast that the agency he created is now headed by one of the most fervent opponents of its mission: Scott Pruitt.
1. Pruitt abused his power at the expense of animals and people’s health. He took campaign contributions from animal agriculture, including Tyson Foods executives, as Oklahoma’s attorney general and then refused to hold animal agriculture companies accountable for toxic poultry waste pollution in waterways. Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA to abolish federal environmental regulations; in 13 of the cases, the co-parties had donated to his campaign representing a gross conflict of interest.
2. Pruitt ended dozens of environmental rules to protect clean air, water, and public health to further enrich corporate CEOs and even recently blocked a rule that limits the release of toxic metals from power plants.
3. Pruitt reversed a ban on a pesticide that causes damage to children’s nervous system.
4. Former Republican Governor and EPA Secretary Christine Todd Whitman eviscerated Pruitt in a recent op-ed. Whitman stated Pruitt’s actions “pose real and lasting threats to the nation’s land, air, water and public health.” She added that Pruitt’s recently constructed “red team” designed to undo decades of research from thousands of scientists on climate change is “deeply troubling…shameful…and a waste of the government’s time, energy and resources.”
5. Even as back to back hurricanes ravaged the United States, Pruitt denies climate change and refused to discuss it. He previously scrubbed the climate change initiatives from the EPA’s website and rolled back regulations curbing planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions.
When visitors click the “Climate Change Website: Regulatory Initiatives” link on the EPA website, this is what happens:
It’s sadly ironic that Donald Trump continues to tout the rise in the stock market. It’s not hard to increase corporate profits when the government strips regulations that protect consumers, animals, and the planet. It costs money to comply with regulations. That’s part of doing business but Trump has always put profits over morality, safety, and consumer protections.
President Obama balanced regulations and corporate profits, lifted America out of the Great Recession, and the stock market still soared during his presidency. Trump is taking the easy and dangerous way out and bathing in stock price outcomes that any novice could achieve.
Pruitt is a human hurricane. His path of destruction isn’t visible to most people but millions will be affected by his reckless and reprehensible decisions. Pruitt is a water, air, human health, and wildlife wrecking ball. His actions will cause irreparable harm now and will be catastrophic for future generations.
For these reasons, it’s incumbent upon every American, regardless of party, to contact their elected officials today to ask them to put pressure on Pruitt to reverse course immediately or resign. You can also use social media to express opposition to Pruitt’s policies. Polluted air, toxic water, floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, and the exploitation of our most beautiful land and water affects every American.