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
By Simon Evans
During the three months of July, August and September, renewables generated an estimated total of 29.5 terawatt hours (TWh), compared with just 29.1TWh from fossil fuels, the analysis shows.
By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
- Mice exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor developed lung cancer within a year.
- More research is needed to know what this means for people who vape.
- Other research has shown that vaping can cause damage to lung tissue.
A new study found that long-term exposure to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor increases the risk of cancer in mice.
Six months: That's how much time Mexico now has to report on its progress to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) from extinction.
It may seem innocuous to flush a Q-tip down the toilet, but those bits of plastic have been washing up on beaches and pose a threat to the birds, turtles and marine life that call those beaches home. The scourge of plastic "nurdles," as they are called, has pushed Scotland to implement a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, as the BBC reported.
By Tim Radford
Scientists in the U.S. have added a new dimension to the growing hazard of extreme heat. As global average temperatures rise, so do the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves.