EPA nominee Pruitt shows appalling lack of knowledge on lead contamination


With the ongoing water crisis in Flint, MI, and elsewhere across the nation, Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, should have known to study up on the effects of lead in the human body and ways to prevent contamination. But a straightforward question from Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) revealed that Pruitt had not bothered to do even the most basic research into this incredibly serious and urgent topic.

Scott Pruitt, whom Donald Trump has named to head the Environmental Protection Agency, seems to have missed the memo on one of the biggest ongoing environmental hazards in the U.S.

Many communities across the United States have been dealing with the crisis of lead contamination — in drinking water, in ground soil, in old paint on the walls of low-cost housing. Lead remediation is a pressing issue across the nation.

The people of Flint, MI, have become the face of this crisis, owing to a governmental policy that switched the city's water supply to a source which contaminated the drinking water with unsafe levels of lead. The situation in Flint grew so severe that President Obama declared a state of emergency in January 2016, as the issue still had not been meaningfully addressed nearly two years after the supply source switch.

But when Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) asked Pruitt about the issue of lead contamination in drinking water, it became clear that Pruitt had not done even the most basic research — including simply looking at the EPA's website, where it clearly states that there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, especially for young people.

CARDIN: We've had significant problems with safe drinking water and clean water. Let me ask you a preliminary question. Do you believe there is any safe level of lead that can be taken into the human body, particularly a young person?

PRUITT: Senator, that's something I have not reviewed nor know about. I would be very concerned about any level of lead going into the drinking water or obviously human consumption. But I've not looked at scientific research on that.

The idea that someone who is so woefully unprepared even for a confirmation hearing, let alone the actual position, remains likely be installed as EPA head is preposterous, and incredibly dangerous.

It does not mean much to say one is "concerned" about a subject, if that concern is not enough to motivate one to learn basic facts readily available through a simple Google search.

This blatant lack of preparedness, hollow claims of concern, and utter disregard for studying what has been a major nationwide news story on a critical public health issue — alongside Pruitt's history of antagonism toward the EPA, an organization he has sued multiple times — ought to make his total unfitness for the job of EPA chief quite clear.