Environment

Scientists Warn Senators: Trump Pick Scott Pruitt Would Silence Science at the EPA

"Appointing an anti-science, anti-EPA climate denier to head that very agency is madness."

Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

Leading up to a committee vote, advocates are taking to social media and urging Senators to reject Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination for EPA Administrator, using the hashtag #PollutingPruitt and citing his fossil fuel ties and climate science denialism. Tuesday's Twitter storm, starting at 3:00 pm EST, comes after a memo sent to the EPA last week by the Trump administration suspended all internal grants and all external communications from the agency, including the distribution of scientific findings.

"Appointing an anti-science, anti-EPA climate denier to head that very agency is madness,” said Dr. Geoffrey Supran, a Postdoctoral Researcher at Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “As a scientist working on climate change solutions, and as a young person scared for my generation's future, Scott Pruitt's fossil-fuel-funded attacks on policy and truth threaten all we hold dear."

As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the EPA more than 14 times, including issuing challenges to the agency’s regional smog and airborne mercury pollution regulations protecting the more than 100,000 children with asthma in the state. These lawsuits were often filed in partnership with oil, coal & gas companies. An investigation by The New York Times revealed that Pruitt allowed fossil fuel industry executives to draft comment letters submitted to the EPA on his own letterhead.

"My PhD research, funded by an EPA grant, is focussed on understanding how climate change will impact air quality in the western US,” said Ploy Achakulwisut, PhD Candidate in Atmospheric Science at Harvard University. “It is unacceptable to me, as an early-career climate scientist, that a climate science denier with a track record of working for the fossil fuel industry - not the public - has been nominated to lead the EPA."

In his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Pruitt said his perspective on whether climate change was caused by human activity is “immaterial” to his nomination for the role. Previously, Pruitt has contradicted the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community on the climate crisis, falsely claiming that “scientists continue to disagree” about its causes.

“Pruitt’s record proves he was bought off by the fossil fuel industry long ago, and any Senator supporting him is voting for corruption,” said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve. “As he built his career casting doubt about climate change and defending the massive profits of polluters, Oklahomans paid the price with their health and safety. There’s no question that he’ll keep up this disturbing legacy by silencing science at the EPA.”

On Tuesday evening, groups will project images and text calling for Senators to vote against Pruitt on the face of the EPA building. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to vote on Pruitt’s nomination Wednesday morning.

Dani Heffernan is the U.S. communications coordinator for 350.org and 350Action.org. Follow her on Twitter @DaniHeffernan.

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