New banners on display at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters highlight five "environmental achievements" under Administrator Scott Pruitt's leadership. But most of Pruitt's so-called achievements are in fact disastrous rollbacks of decades of environmental progress, said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook.
That's the air pollution reduction initiative that career EPA scientists estimate would "lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children."
Only one of the five items on Pruitt's list sounds like an achievement on behalf of the environment and human health: "Cleaning up contaminated sites."
He's referring to EPA's Superfund program. Despite his rhetoric, Pruitt showed his true commitment to cleaning up the most polluted communities in the nation when he picked his friend and former banker, Albert "Kell" Kelly, to run the Superfund Task Force. Kelly has zero experience in the areas of environmental cleanups, policy, science or law and federal banking regulators have banned him for life from working in the banking industry.
Among Pruitt's other "achievements" are gutting a critical program to curb industrial and agricultural pollution in streams, which an EWG analysis found could imperil the drinking water for up to 117 million Americans.
"On behalf my colleagues in the environmental community, I express my sympathy to the dedicated EPA staffers who have to walk by Pruitt's banners every day," said Cook. "I guess he didn't want to fall behind Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke in the self-aggrandizing flag competition."
EWG has come up with its own list of the most significant "achievements" of Pruitt's first year.
- Blocking an expected ban of a pesticide so toxic it causes brain damage in kids.
- At the behest of the dying coal industry, rolling back the Clean Power Plan, which would have helped dramatically reduce asthma attacks among American children.
- Spending $25,000 of taxpayer money on a phone booth.
- Convincing President Trump to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord.
- Removing wholesale sections of the EPA's website about climate change.
- Giving a right-wing opposition research firm $120,000 of taxpayer money to monitor journalists and FOIA emails of EPA staff.
- Delaying action to regulate a highly toxic paint stripper chemical that kills people on contact.
- Spending more than $58,000 in taxpayer dollars on private and military flights, and more than $832,000 taxpayer dollars for just three months of his 24/7 security detail.
- Boasting that he's proud of his efforts to cut EPA's staff by 50 percent.
- Falsely claiming to be partnering with Toyota to evaluate EPA management practices.