The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
'John Muir Is Rolling Over in His Grave' With Scott Pruitt at the Helm of the EPA
By Deirdre Fulton
Newly sworn-in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, whose nomination was ardently opposed by environmentalists and who is poised to roll back major climate and clean water regulations, addressed his employees for the first time Tuesday afternoon.
During his remarks, in which he did not mention the pressing crisis of climate change or the matter of public health, Pruitt quoted Sierra Club founder John Muir, saying: "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in."
Environmentalists were not impressed.
It's difficult to imagine that EPA staffers—hundreds of whom publicly opposed Pruitt's confirmation in the days before the Senate vote—were too pleased, either.
"For some scientists in the agency, [Pruitt's] first speech was probably the equivalent of Voldemort himself walking into Hogwarts and assuming the top job," wrote Andrew Freedman at Mashable.
Pruitt addressed that tension obliquely, telling those who were gathered: "Civility is something I believe in very much. We ought to be able to get together and wrestle through some issues in a civil manner."
The Los Angeles Times reported:
He expressed admiration for the many employees he met during his first meetings at the headquarters who have been with the agency for decades.
"You can't lead unless you can listen," Pruitt said. "I seek to listen, learn and lead with you." But he also bemoaned the "toxic" nature of modern politics.
Pruitt also lobbed subtle barbs at the agency's past leadership, saying EPA needs to avoid abuses. "Regulations ought to make things regular. Regulators exist to give certainty to those we regulate," he said. (Last week, he was even more critical of the Obama-era EPA, telling the Wall Street Journal that it had "disregarded the law").
But Pruitt made no mention of what's likely to be big news this week: Trump is planning to sign executive orders that would start the process of rolling back two major EPA regulations: the Clean Power Plan, one of [President Barack] Obama's signature climate programs and the Waters of the U.S. rule, which regulates pollution in smaller bodies of water.
Ironically, the former Oklahoma attorney general spoke of the need to be "open and transparent"—on the same day that the public awaits the court-ordered release of thousands of emails Pruitt's office sought to withhold from the watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy. The emails are expected to be released by end of day Tuesday.
And he stated: "We can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment," leading Center for Media and Democracy director of research Nick Surgey to say Pruitt was "already talking about putting the interests of the environment against the interests of industry."
Politico reported that "Pruitt delivered his remarks to about 100 employees gathered at the agency's headquarters, an event that also included a conspicuous handful of security personnel." Pruitt is reportedly "expected to request an around-the-clock security detail from his agency, according to an internal agency email" seen by Greenwire.
Watch Pruitt's full speech here:
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
By Dave Cooke
So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.
By Richard Connor
A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.