By Liz Perera and Adam Beitman
Scott Pruitt shocked the world last week when he declared that carbon pollution was not the primary driver of the climate crisis. But what was even more shocking was the fact that he clearly and repeatedly misled Congress about his intentions on this critical issue during his confirmation process to serve as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Pruitt's misleading testimony before the Senate is actually part of a much larger pattern of him misleading Congress.
Pruitt is a baseball fan so let's put it this way: three strikes and you're out. He has proven that he is unfit to do the job he is legally required to do—and unwilling to do it even if he could—meaning he ought to resign. Failing that, the Senate should take action to remove him from his position because, among the most obvious and readily identifiable instances, Pruitt misled Congress at least three times:
- Strike One: Conducting official state business over a private email account.
- Strike Two: His position on climate change and EPA's ability to regulate CO2.
- Strike Three: His history of actively promoting mercury pollution as Attorney General of Oklahoma.
Pruitt Misled Congress About His Emails:
In written testimony to Congress in response to a question from Sen. Cory Booker, Pruitt declared that "I use only my official OAG [Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General] email address and government issued phone to conduct official business."
The Associated Press (AP) revealed that claim to be false when select Pruitt correspondence was ordered released to the public by a court after public interest groups had requested it.
According to AP, multiple instances of such private electronic communication for purposes of conducting public business have been uncovered, "including a 2013 exchange with a petroleum industry lobbyist who emailed Pruitt and a lawyer on the attorney general's staff."
Strike One: Pruitt misled Congress about his use a private email account to conduct official state business.
Pruitt Misled Congress About Climate Change and Regulating Carbon Pollution:
Last week, Pruitt told CNBC that he does not believe carbon dioxide is a "primary contributor" to the climate crisis.
#EPA Chief Denies CO2 as Primary Driver of #ClimateChange https://t.co/r3AbWyBrJQ @SierraClub @ewg @350 @Agent350 @foodandwater @LeoDiCaprio— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1489090914.0
But that's a very different tune from what he sang to Congress. In written testimony, Pruitt certified that "I also believe the administrator has an important role when it comes to the regulation of carbon dioxide, which I will fulfill consistent with Massachusetts v. EPA and the agency's Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases respective of the applicable statutory framework established by Congress."
Separately, in an exchange with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Pruitt said "Senator, I believe that the [EPA] administrator has a very important role to perform in regulating CO2."
By offering and affirming that the EPA administrator has an important role in regulating carbon dioxide in light of the EPA's Endangerment Finding (established in the Massachusetts vs. EPA Supreme Court case), Pruitt clearly acknowledged the role carbon pollution plays in driving climate change.
During separate questioning Pruitt also explicitly acknowledged the legitimacy of the endangerment finding, saying: "the endangerment finding is there and needs to be enforced and respected." When pressed by Sen. Markey on whether he would review or alter the finding if confirmed, Pruitt affirmed "There is nothing that I know that would cause a review at this point."
Pruitt clearly made the case to the Senate at the time that he had no reason to reverse the finding that carbon pollution poses a danger by causing climate change, whereas now he says publicly that it does not pose a danger, actively denying the role of carbon pollution as a dangerous climate pollutant.
Strike Two: Pruitt misled Congress about his views on climate change and, more importantly, how carbon pollution should be regulated by the EPA as an air pollutant in light of Supreme Court rulings and the agency's "Endangerment Finding."
Pruitt Misled Congress On His Greenwashing of Toxic Mercury:
In his testimony to Congress, Pruitt denied he had ever argued that the EPA should not regulate mercury pollution in his position suing the agency as Attorney General of Oklahoma. Specifically, Pruitt said "there was no argument that we made from the State perspective that mercury is not a hazardous air pollutant under Section 112."
But the truth is that in legal filings, Pruitt did make the argument that the EPA was breaking the law by regulating mercury and other toxic air emissions. Most damningly, Pruitt signed a legal brief contending that that the benefits of protections against mercury pollution are "small, uncertain and in most instances unquantifiable."
Strike Three: Pruitt attempted the absurd task of arguing that Mercury is not-toxic and then tried to cover it up.
Meet the Top #EPA Official Who Quit After 24 Years to Protest Pruitt & #Trump https://t.co/gVwyPMfANo @DeSmogBlog @SierraClub @greenpeaceusa— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1489420900.0
Scott Pruitt: Three Strikes—You're Out!
(Want even more examples of Pruitt misleading Congress? Check out the Environmental Working Group's post from late January).
Conclusion: Pruitt has proven that he is unfit to do the job of protecting the American people from toxic pollution and he misled Congress repeatedly during his confirmation process. For these reasons, he ought to resign. If he refuses, the Senate should take action on its own and remove him from his position.
Liz Perera is the Sierra Club's climate policy director. Adam Beitman is the Sierra Club's deputy national press secretary, covering federal policy, politics and international issues.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
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