Satirizing, belittling, and demeaning Donald Trump have become cottage industries. There are T-shirts, bumper stickers, and hats; and of course Facebook floggings and Twitter tirades. We’ve learned to show our disgust in a myriad of ways, and we think we’re winning because his utter ineptitude prevents him from accomplishing anything.
Let me disabuse of the belief that we’re winning with two words: Scott Pruitt.
Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has but one goal: to eviscerate the Environmental Protection Agency, which he famously spent years suing when he was Attorney General for Oklahoma. Trump may flounder through everything from health care to infrastructure, but Pruitt cannot be accused of the same incompetence.
In March he rejected the ban on chlorpyrifos, an insecticide linked to several health issues, especially in young children. He said more study was needed.
He opposes the 2011 Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, one with which most U.S. power plants already comply. But coal (what else?) is the worst polluter in that area, and the Trump administration loves coal; therefore, Pruitt loves it too.
He lobbied the White House to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and has lobbied the coal industry to support the withdrawal.
With Pruitt in charge the EPA has removed key pollution and climate data from its web site, a not-unexpected situation since he knows nothing about the “E” and the “P” in the organization he represents. Remember, it was Scott Pruitt who claimed on CNBC that carbon dioxide is not “a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” As ridiculous as the climate change debate has become (and it’s not debatable!), debating actual science is nonsense.
Pruitt has reduced the staff of the EPA, thereby making enforcement of rules already in place virtually impossible. Without that enforcement, violations will grow unchecked, and strides we’ve made over the past fifty years will vanish.
Yesterday, with a half dozen states reeling in the wake of two unprecedented hurricanes, Pruitt claimed that it was insensitive to be talking about climate change at this time. Apparently he doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of the twelve million Floridians without power or the thousands in Houston still beset by toxic floodwaters in the aftermath of Harvey. How anyone can be that tone-deaf is baffling, until we remember who appointed him.
Maybe recovering from the damage that Donald Trump has done to the American psyche—the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the worship of ignorance—maybe that can be undone by education and generational change; but the damage that a hidebound reactionary like Scott Pruitt can inflict not only on America but on the planet, in all likelihood will never be reversed.
Look what he’s done in merely seven months.