Scott Pruitt: EPA to value profits over lives


scott Pruitt

President Trump listens to EPA Administrator Pruitt after announcing decision to withdraw from Paris Climate Agreement in the White House Rose Garden in Washington. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

If you have ever wondered what the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency actually is, then perhaps I should point out that the name is an ever so subtle hint. Permit me to decrypt it for you. The first word clearly points to it being something to do with to the environment and then the second word appears to suggest in some cryptic fashion that it involves protecting the environment.

It is of course blindly obvious to everybody, well almost everybody, because Scott Pruitt the Trump appointee who runs the EPA appears to be quite oblivious to the idea of clean air, clean water, the elimination of toxic waste, etc…From his viewpoint, the acronym EPA stands for Environmental Pollution Agency. That is how, under his leadership, things are playing out.

Beyond the usual attributes we now associate with a Trump appointee …

… and the reversal of sensible legislation that was enacted for the good of all …

… we now have a further step.

Benefits

In 2003 the Office of Management and Budget gave the following directive to the EPA …

Your analysis should look beyond the direct benefits and direct costs of your rulemaking and consider any important ancillary benefits and countervailing risks. An ancillary benefit is a favorable impact of the rule that is typically unrelated or secondary to the statutory purpose of the rulemaking (e.g., reduced refinery emissions due to more stringent fuel economy standards for light trucks)…

That’s a sensible approach. When you reduce pollution there will be a cost, but then doing that will also yield benefits. Some will be direct, but there will also be indirect benefits such as the number of lives saved.

Pruitt is now doing away with all of this …

the Daily Caller recently reported that at a gathering at the fossil fuel-funded Heritage Institute, Pruitt announced that the EPA and federal government will soon end two important science-based practices in evaluating the costs and benefits of regulations.

The footing that the EPA is now moving towards is extremely dubious. As highlighted by the Guardian …

Pruitt’s EPA hired a scientist who has argued that American air is “a little too clean for optimum health.” However, EPA looked at the associated science and issued a memo in 2012 concluding …

Studies demonstrate an association between premature mortality and fine particle pollution at the lowest levels measured in the relevant studies, levels that are significantly below the [National Ambient Air Quality Standards] for fine particles. These studies have not observed a level at which premature mortality effects do not occur. The best scientific evidence, confirmed by independent, Congressionally-mandated expert panels, is that there is no threshold level of fine particle pollution below which health risk reductions are not achieved by reduced exposure.

The bottom line is that when considering all effects, the benefits of EPA pollutant regulations often far outweigh their costs.

Clean air, clean water, people not dying because of pollution, etc…

Such benefits are huge and so the cost associated with pollution reducing regulations is easy to justify when you take all that into account. If you now discard and ignore those indirect benefits, then you are in essence enabling a means to give priority to profit and pollution instead of the environment.

Influential

Time put Mr Pruitt on their list of the 100 most “influential” people of 2018. He might perhaps consider that to be an honour, but the truth is that he gets that slot because the influence he brings is negative, there is nothing beneficial or positive about anything he is doing.

A previous EPA administrator, Christine Todd Whitman, described him as follows in that Time listing …

under the administration of Scott Pruitt, the agency is experiencing a new wave of policymaking—or rather, policy dismantling. (He has already dismantled the Clean Power Plan, which would have regulated carbon dioxide emissions in the power sector, and is now targeting vehicle-emissions standards.) If his actions continue in the same direction, during Pruitt’s term at the EPA the environment will be threatened instead of protected, and human health endangered instead of preserved, all with no long-term benefit to the economy.

When it comes to environmental cleanups, I can immediately think of a toxic bit of shit that needs to be cleaned up and removed from a position where it is currently emitting an obnoxious influence upon the environment.

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