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News from Ground Control: Planet Trump (Feb. 3)

Friday, February 3, 2017

This week, the Republican-led Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee suspended rules and decorum to railroad President Trump’s EPA nominee, Scott Pruitt, through the committee, setting up a floor vote by the full Senate in the coming days. EWG said committee members who voted for Pruitt had tarnished the legacy of the EPA and that if approved by the Senate, he would take office as the worst EPA administrator in history.

We continued our investigation into Pruitt’s  non-existent environmental record as Oklahoma attorney general. This drew outrage and flat-out lies from the White House. Our colleagues at EWG Action Fund released an ad raising serious concerns over how President Trump and Pruitt will handle EPA’s move to ban asbestos.

Here are some of the week’s best coverage of our investigation of Pruitt, along with other stories on troubling environmental and public health actions from the new administration.

Reuters, Valeria Volcovici (Feb. 2), Senate Panel Advances Trump EPA Pick Over Democrats’ Boycott

Environmental groups, which have strongly criticized the choice of Pruitt, raised concerns that the nomination was pushed through to the full Senate.

"If he is approved by the full Senate, he will start on day one as the worst EPA administrator in history," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.

Associated Press, Michael Biesecker and Andrew Taylor (Feb. 2), GOP Senators Move Trump EPA Pick Ahead as Dems Boycott Vote

"During the campaign, President Trump pledged to dismantle the EPA," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group. "In Scott Pruitt, he found just the man to carry out his vision."

The Oklahoman, Rick Green (Feb. 3), Reaction to Pruitt Vote

"By any measure, the president could hardly have found — and the committee could not have approved — a worse nominee to be in charge of public health and environmental protection. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt's crusade of more than a dozen lawsuits filed against the EPA to stop efforts aimed at reducing air and water pollution to protect Americans is unmatched. Time and time again, Pruitt said ‘no’ when policies were proposed or rules implemented that would save lives, including initiatives specifically intended to protect children." Environmental Working Group President and Co-Founder Ken Cook

Politico, Jenny Hopkinson (Feb. 2), Morning Agriculture

A FINAL STAB AT PRUITT BEFORE COMMITTEE VOTE: The Environmental Working Group is out with a new report today — as the Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to vote on Scott Pruitt’s nomination to head EPA — that highlights what the advocacy group says is the Oklahoma attorney general’s poor record on curbing poultry runoff in the Illinois River Basin.

EWG’s report probes what it calls a “toothless” poultry law that Pruitt co-sponsored when he was an Oklahoma state senator in 2002. The measure, it says, weakened an earlier version of the bill and allowed chicken houses to be built up to a mile away from critical waterways, shrinking the buffer zone called for in the earlier bill. It also permitted the spreading of manure within buffer zones and only put restrictions on new or expanded poultry operations run by out-of-state interests — a loophole that benefited local contract farmers.

EWG blasts Pruitt for touting the measure as an environmental win and accuses him of failing to enforce the rules during his tenure as Oklahoma’s top law enforcement official. It points to data showing 14 new or expanded poultry facilities built within a mile of a critical waterway. EWG also charges that Pruitt effectively delayed implementation of water-quality standards with Arkansas that further imperiled the Illinois River. The report is here.

The Trump administration wasn’t impressed with the EWG effort to derail Pruitt’s confirmation. A White House spokesman tells MA that the report “is just another desperate attempt to distort AG Pruitt’s record. The fact of the matter is Oklahoma has never had an enforced phosphorus standard until AG Pruitt successfully moved this issue past years of stalled litigation and into an agreement that bound Arkansas polluters to a standard for the first time in the history of the issue.”

Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers (Jan. 31), Scott Pruitt Will Make America Great Again – For Polluters

The Guardian, Arthur Neslen (Feb. 1), Donald Trump ‘Taking Steps to Abolish Environmental Protection Agency’

New York Times, Barry Meier (Jan. 31), A Polluted Site, and a Potential Mess for the Trump Administration

The Guardian, Damian Carrington (Jan. 30), Green Movement ‘Greatest Threat to Freedom’, Says Trump Advisor

Washington Post, Steven Mufson (Jan. 30), Trump Wants to Scrap Two Regulations for Each New One Adopted


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