Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is under 13 concurrent federal investigations in the U.S. into everything from his exorbitant 24/7 security detail and habit of backstabbing whistleblowing subordinates to pricey plane tickets and cosy relationships with lobbyists. But apparently that's not enough for the EPA's principal deputy general counsel and chief ethics officer Kevin Minoli, who the New York Times reported on Saturday has been pushing for the EPA's Inspector General to launch a "series of independent investigations into possible improprieties," according to a letter obtained by the paper.
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As the White House was preparing to implement deep cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month, Mustafa Ali, head of the Office on Environmental Justice, resigned. A week later, his motivation for departing became clear, when President Trump released a hardline budget draft that called for slashing EPA funding by 31 per cent, and eliminating as many as 3200 agency jobs. Ali's resignation, and the ensuing budget draft, are disturbing signs that America's poor and people of colour are going to continue suffering disproportionately from pollution under Trump. Sadly, that's nothing new.
We all hoped EPA head, Scott Pruitt, would eventually face consequences when he falsely claimed that there was "tremendous disagreement" about whether human activity cause global warming.
The time may have finally arrived.
On Wednesday, US President Trump released a draft federal spending budget for 2018. It reads like a Mad Max: Fury Road prequel. The budget outline savagely guts the Environmental Protection Agency, reducing overall spending by 31 per cent and zeroing out key features of the agency, from climate change research to pollution control programs to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. If enacted, the proposed budget cuts would lead to an estimated 3200 jobs lost.
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt is a simple man. He likes denying climate change, obscuring the thousands in campaign funds he's received from the fossil fuel industry, and denying climate change some more. Bloomberg reported this morning that Pruitt is now saying he doesn't believe the overwhelming scientific consensus that CO2 is the primary contributor of global warming. What a convenient viewpoint to take when your oil buddies want you to deregulate carbon emissions!
The existential threat posed by climate change can often obscure the more immediate vulnerabilities that regulatory bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency guard against. As Scott Faber of the nonprofit research organisation Environmental Working Group put it, "The EPA is the only guarantee that when you turn on your tap your water isn't full of shit." So it's alarming that Scott Pruitt, newly confirmed administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, once worked on behalf of donors in Oklahoma to stop his new employer from keeping literal chicken crap out of the water.
Today, Trump will announce major cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency as he starts to build the US budget for the next fiscal year, according to reports from Axios and the New York Times. A top official reportedly told Axios we can expect "transformational" cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, especially when it comes to climate change programs. This, of course, comes as no surprise.
Despite extraordinary backlash, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has just been named to head the Environmental Protection Agency for the Trump administration. The vote came one day after a judge ruled Pruitt has until Tuesday to release 3000 emails between himself and executive members of the fossil fuel industry. It's a highly controversial appointment celebrated by many in the fossil fuel industry, and dreaded by a number of environmental scientists, some of whom now work for him.
As the Trump administration has taken power, a lot of valuable information from US government agencies has been erased. Useful info is being scrubbed from the USDA and the Department of Education, and there are clear indications that the EPA is next. But we now have a snapshot of what the EPA website looked like the day before Trump took office. And it's all thanks to FOIA requestors.