Sustainability Column: The Problem of Scott Pruitt

Delaney Pals

As of last Friday, Scott Pruitt was confirmed as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This nomination has major implications for the future of the United States as a global leader in the climate change battle because of Pruitt’s views on climate change and his past history with the EPA.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s mission is to protect both the physical environment and human health in the United States, as well as study the environment and environmental change, which includes the study of climate change. The EPA also enforces environmental regulations and laws that have been put in place at the federal level in order to keep our air and water clean.

Now Pruitt, who is a known climate denier, is head of the agency that seeks to protect us from environmental degradation and harm from pollution. He was the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, which is a heavy oil producing state and he sued the EPA many times in favor of Oklahoma. One of his main promises as head of the EPA is to get rid of the Clean Power Plan, a plan which forces coal and natural gas plants to monitor their emissions.

Pruitt’s confirmation as the head of the EPA emphasizes the divide in this country’s ideology, and also questions our role as a global leader in climate action by separating us from the rest of the world. If Pruitt cuts the Clean Power Plan, it would increase the United States’ emissions. The biggest problem, however, is that Pruitt puts businesses and economic commerce in front of the environment every time.

Since the United States is one of the most influential and powerful countries in the world, what we do matters. By cutting emissions and shifting towards a more sustainable approach we would show the world that we are committed and set an example for what other countries can do to protect the environment. However, if we keep emitting and show no concern for the environment, placing business over the health of the planet, many countries will probably follow suit. Not cutting emissions and pretending that climate change is a fallacy is the easy thing to do, it takes no effort (except ignoring the scientific proof). But by not dealing with this problem right now, we are setting ourselves and future generations up for an impossible task.

President Trump has promised drastic climate action cuts including backing out of the COP 21 Paris agreements. This combined with Pruitt’s actions as head of the EPA could put the United States back many years, in terms of preparing for the future and a transition to clean and sustainable energy.

However, there are things that can be done. Make sure your voice is always heard and contact your State Representatives showing your support for the climate and a more sustainable future. On April 29th, 2017 there is going to be a climate march in Washington D.C. This is a great way to show President Trump and Scott Pruitt –– along with many other appointed officials –– how much the environment matters to us and how we will not sit quietly and let them destroy it.