Staffers warn Scott Pruitt has handed EPA over to polluters


Scott Pruitt's EPA is focused on protecting business instead of consumers.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), under its scandal-plagued chief Scott Pruitt, has swung so far away from its stated mission of protecting consumers that the agency is now on the precipice of "regulatory capture,"  say current and former agency staffers.

Pruitt is "aggressively reorganizing the EPA to promote interests of regulated industries, at the expense of its official mission to 'protect human health and the environment,'" according to a group of social scientists who interviewed more than 40 current and former EPA staffers.

According to the new research, the EPA is no longer focused on the public interest; instead, it's completely focused on private interest and how the agency can better serve big business regardless of the public impact.

(Another example of "regulatory capture" includes the financial collapse of 2008, where weak federal oversight and  banking industry influence was widely viewed as fueling the disaster.)

To date, the evidence regarding the latest Pruitt EPA revelation is overwhelming.

Pruitt has stacked his staff with industry insiders — including deputy administrator Andrew Wheeler, who is a former coal industry lobbyist; deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Nancy Beck, who was formerly an executive at chemical lobbying group American Chemistry Council; and senior deputy general counsel Erik Baptist, who was previously senior counsel at the American Petroleum Institute.

That means industry interests get the red-carpet treatment from the EPA.

"The former head of EPA’s Office of Policy, Samantha Dravis, who left the agency in April 2018, had 90 scheduled meetings with energy, manufacturing and other industrial interests between March 2017 and January 2018," the researchers noted. "During the same period she met with one public interest organization."

That privileged access then leads to EPA cooperation.

During Trump’s first six months in office, the EPA collected 60 percent less money in civil penalties from polluters than it had during that same period under both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Recently, a leaked memo confirmed the EPA sent employees a list of talking points on Tuesday instructing them to cast doubt on the scientific consensus about climate change. That spin directly contradicts the reality that 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists agree that the warming trends observed over the past century “are extremely likely due to human activities.”

More? In a rush to undo an Obama-era ban on heavily polluting trucks, Pruitt recently ignored his own agency’s research on emissions, turning instead to an industry-funded study that was so flawed even the university that produced it had to disown the findings.

The fact that Pruitt has so quickly and thoroughly handed over the EPA to regulated industries may explain why he still has a job despite his historic record of corruption.

In other words, Pruitt has been so transparent in his unprecedented effort to turn the agency away from protecting consumers to promoting big business that Trump may be willing to overlook Pruitt's borderline criminal behavior.

Pruitt has also been a strong proponent of mindlessly downplaying the importance of science in government policy, which has become a hallmark of the Trump administration.

It's called the Environmental Protection Agency, but the environment is not what Pruitt's protecting.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.