Washington, D.C. — President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, owns a track record that puts him directly at odds with the mission of the agency which he hopes to head.
In 2016, Earthworks staff and certified thermographers traveled throughout Oklahoma to document otherwise invisible air pollution with an industry-standard infrared camera, as well as video testimonials of the human impacts of living with oil and gas. Earthworks recorded pollution at nearly every well and oil and gas facility they visited, which was released to the public and reported widely across the state via local TV news and in newspapers. In response, Mr. Pruitt failed to take any action, other than to sue EPA not to limit this type of pollution.
“Oklahomans are shaking in their boots, literally, thanks to state regulators putting oil and gas profits ahead of the public interest,” said Sharon Wilson, Earthworks Texas Organizer and certified thermographer. She continued, “As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt consistently risked public health and safety by ignoring air pollution and earthquakes caused by the oil and gas industry. As EPA Administrator, he would be responsible for defending the very methane pollution rules he sued to block as Attorney General.”
Oklahoma is also home to the Tar Creek Superfund site, a lead/zinc mining complex for which American taxpayers are still paying to reclaim more than 60 years after most mining ceased. Last December the EPA proposed new regulations which, if they had been in place when mining at Tar Creek occurred, would have forced miners to guarantee they could pay for their own cleanup before they started mining. These rules, which are supposed to be finalized by December 2017, are strongly opposed by the mining industry even though companies would not lose any money if they perform cleanups as promised.
“Long before the crisis in Flint, Michigan, the Tar Creek Superfund site polluted drinking water and swimming holes near Picher, Oklahoma with lead and zinc,” said Lauren Pagel, Earthworks Policy Director. She continued, “As Attorney General, Scott Pruitt has a long and tested history of kowtowing to polluting industries. Putting Mr. Pruitt at the helm of the EPA just as the agency is set to finalize new rules to make polluters pay to clean up their own messes will put millions more people at risk from toxic pollution.”