By: Harrison McCroskey

President Donald Trump has openly expressed his views on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and climate change: he claims that climate change is a hoax and plans to cut the EPA workforce down to 5,000, a two-thirds reduction, and its budget by half, to around $4 billion. Trump has claimed that he plans to drastically change the way the government operates in positive ways; however, this change would have a negative impact on factors such as air quality, water toxicity and the health of our environment.  

 Trump’s selection for the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, had his vote delayed on February 1 due to a boycott by several Democrats on the committee. Their reasoning was that Pruitt doubted the science of climate change, and should not become the head of the EPA. Nevertheless, Pruitt was approved by the Senate Committee on February 2.

“We have a right and a responsibility to examine and critically evaluate these nominees’ background, to make sure that they will fulfill their oath and their responsibility,” Senator Kamala Harris, a  Democrat, said in a news conference. “This is about transparency in government. This is about dealing with the fact that you think the system is rigged.”

 A Republican Senator, Dan Sullivan, responded to the boycott, saying, “Tempter (sic) tantrums waste a lot of energy but they don’t accomplish anything.”

 However unproductive and futile this boycott may seem, the senators did it for a specific reason. They want EPA head to be qualified, motivated and an effective leader but they did not receive an adequate candidate. Regardless of the political position, background or personal values of citizens, the protection of our ecosystem is crucial issue.

 In the past, Pruitt has filed lawsuits against the government branch he will soon run. In 2009, the EPA was informed of the health hazards in greenhouse gas emissions in Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and the National Research Council (NRC). Because of the Clean Air Act, which forces the EPA to regulate dangerous pollution sources, the EPA began to take action. To stop the EPA from doing this Pruitt sued the EPA based on a conjecture. He claimed that the regulation was sourced from unreliable organizations and therefore was not justified.

 Pruitt sued the EPA again in 2011 when the Obama Administration issued a rule to cut mercury emissions from power plants. A new technology that filtered the mercury and other toxins was soon developed. The rule required 40 percent of existing power plants to install the technology that the other 60 percent had already adopted. The EPA estimated that it would prevent 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks each year. Pruitt sued the EPA yet again, claiming that the EPA did not take into account the cost of the installation and function of the mercury filters.

Several other lawsuits were filed along with these against the E.P.A. It makes little sense to appoint a person who has sued the agency so many times; however, regretting his appointment makes even less sense. Hopefully, Pruitt and Trump will have the goal of keeping our national parks, air quality, and environment healthy and clean.