Energy & Environment

The Lynch Mob Targets Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt on Capitol Hill in June (Reuters photo: Aaron P. Bernstein)
‘If he has had enough serious death threats, then he shouldn't have proposed the deep cuts to the EPA budget.’

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA administrator, is the top target of the anti-Trump lynch mob. He’s enduring daily attack pieces in the media and threats of violence against him and his family. It’s hard to think of any cabinet member — current or former — who has been subjected to more vitriol and vilification than Pruitt, and he’s been on the job for less than a year. Suddenly, everything from overlooked Superfund sites to the Flint water crisis to “toxic” pesticides are Pruitt’s fault, which of course means he is poisoning children and destroying the planet.

According to the EPA inspector general’s office, Pruitt has received “four to five times the number of threats” that his predecessor, Gina McCarthy, did. The level of concern for Pruitt’s safety is so deep that agents are being added to his round-the-clock security detail. In a recent Bloomberg News interview, Pruitt said, “The quantity and the volume — as well as the type — of threats are different. What’s really disappointing to me as it’s not just me — it’s family.”

Why are Pruitt and his family in the crosshairs? “What is different is that the Democrats have whipped up their base into a frenzy against him,” Steve Milloy, a longtime EPA critic, told me. “It’s not surprising that he’s getting even more threats than usual.”

And it isn’t just left-wing environmental extremists who are inciting or excusing calls to assassinate a key cabinet member. Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey and EPA chief under President George W. Bush, told CNN that “if he has had enough serious death threats, then he shouldn’t have proposed the deep cuts to the EPA budget.”

So, to borrow a line from the musical Chicago, he had it comin’, or so sings the chorus of swamp creatures threatened by Pruitt’s systematic disassembling of one of the federal government’s most notoriously rogue and punitive agencies. In a column for SFGATE, a sister site for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Morford suggested the death threats might be from “environmental advocates, or teachers, or peace activists, or lovers of life and humanity and nature, or distraught mothers, worried that Pruitt’s actions will endanger the lives of their children.” Morford concludes that “when you send death threats to the world and all who live on her, the world will, quite naturally, send them right back.”

Some Hollywood celebrities are also riding the Pruitt Hate Train; actor Mark Ruffalo routinely posts threatening tweets about the EPA chief. As Hurricane Irma took aim at the Florida coast in September, Ruffalo suggested that hurricane victims “direct some of your rage and loss” at “climate deniers like Scott Pruitt.” This week, Ruffalo said this about extreme weather events:

Why all the hyperbole? Because Pruitt is on a successful mission to clean house at an agency that was highly politicized under the Obama administration. Environmental activists and agenda-driven scientists ruled the roost; the EPA was Obama’s go-to agency to impose unscientific and costly regulations, mostly in the name of climate change.

Pruitt is undoing all of it, and not apologizing for it. He pushed the president to exit the Paris Climate Accord, scrubbed the EPA’s website of climate-change propaganda, and rescinded two of Obama’s most burdensome environmental policies — the Clean Water Rule and the Clean Power Plan. Pruitt announced last month his agency would end the so-called “sue and settle” practice used by activists to impose regulations against industry. This ploy, in which activist groups sue and a friendly EPA settles the lawsuit by agreeing to the groups’ demands, cost nearly $68 billion from 2005 to 2016 and resulted in more than 8 million hours of paperwork burden.

This week, Pruitt is ridding the agency’s advisory boards of “individuals that are receiving money from the agency, sometimes going back years and years to the tune of literally tens of millions of dollars . . . that causes questions on the independence and the veracity of the transparency of the recommendations that are coming our way.” In other words, the people telling the EPA what research is necessary are also the people getting the grants.

Outrage about Pruitt’s alleged attack on the environment is a greenwash. Liberals are really concerned about Pruitt’s attack on big government and the dismantling of one of their pet agencies. His work at the EPA might truly be Trump’s biggest — and best — legacy.


How Scott Pruitt Ended Obama Admin’s Abuse of Power

Pruitt Corrects Obama-Era Water Regulation

Why Scott Pruitt’s Flights is a Non-Scandal

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