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Pruitt Demoted Staffers Who Raised Concerns About His Conduct
Several U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees who raised concerns about Scott Pruitt's leadership tactics, including his spending habits, were reassigned or demoted, according to a New York Times report.
The five officials in question, including one Trump administration political appointee and one member of Pruitt's security detail, were a key part of the approval process for certain requests, and directly raised concerns over demands for items like a $70,000 desk upgrade, expanded security detail and the use of sirens and flashing lights on occasions when Pruitt was running late for dinner.
The Times report capped off another day of Pruitt-related scandals, including a report from the Washington Post that he endorsed raises for his aides despite denying knowledge of the pay changes earlier this week. One of Pruitt's top aides, Samantha Dravis, handed in her resignation Wednesday.
In a scathing op-ed published in The Hill, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) said Pruitt "has done more to damage the economy, our environment, public safety and American global competitiveness than any Trump Cabinet member.
"Since taking office, Mr. Pruitt has questioned man-made climate change, scrubbed the EPA website of references to climate change, disputed settled scientific findings, and removed scientific experts from advisory boards, replacing them with industry representatives. He has withdrawn and reversed important environmental protections, including the Clean Power Plan and coal ash disposal requirements. Lest we forget, it was Mr. Pruitt who was the loudest cheerleader for pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The administrator has even advocated slashing his agency's budget by a third. All of these decisions jeopardize the American public.
Under the Obama administration, we were making investments in the 21st century clean energy economy and leading the global community in taking historic action on climate change. Mr. Pruitt, however, seems hell-bent on reversing that progress, and would rather pretend climate change doesn't exist. Knowing he speaks to an audience of one, he has calculated that pushing these backward policies may be enough to protect his job."
For a deeper dive:
Employees: New York Times, CNN. Traffic: CBS, Raises: Washington Post. Pruitt in crisis: New York Times, Axios, Huffington Post, LA Times, Politico. Dravis: CNN. Commentary: Washington Post, Philip Bump analysis, Washington Post, Aaron Blake analysis, The Hill, Rep. Gerry Connolly op-ed, The Hill, Mike Carr op-ed, GQ, Jack Holmes analysis, Wall Street Journal editorial, Fox, Steve Milloy op-ed
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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.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
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