Someone with a track record of undermining national parks should not lead this key environmental agency
The health of our national parks depends on our ability to protect them from threats inside and outside their borders. The National Park Service does not do this job alone. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implements and enforces laws such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to protect these magnificent and inspirational places and to ensure park visitors can breathe healthy air, swim in clean water and enjoy scenic vistas unmarred by haze pollution.
It is particularly troubling that the president-elect has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Pruitt, a self-proclaimed “leading advocate against EPA’s activist agenda,” has repeatedly sued the agency to weaken or eliminate bedrock environmental protections. His leadership of the EPA would severely undermine the health of America’s national parks.
Here are the top 10 reasons why we must urge lawmakers to oppose Pruitt’s nomination as EPA administrator.
1. Pruitt denies climate science, despite the overwhelming consensus among scientists that human activities are driving the unprecedented warming of our planet. Outgoing National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis called climate change the biggest challenge facing the national parks in their second century. According to the Park Service, more than $40 billion worth of park infrastructure and resources are at high risk of being damaged or destroyed over the next 100 years by sea level rise and storm vulnerability caused by climate change.
2. Pruitt has long accepted financial support for his political campaigns from energy companies, and his official actions have directly benefited these companies. The EPA must regulate pollution from these and other industries that harm park resources, creating a serious conflict of interest.
3. As Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt represented polluter interests in court, helping utilities fight pollution controls that would improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas.
4. Pruitt is leading a federal lawsuit to block the Clean Power Plan, a much-needed blueprint for reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that impair the health of parks and contribute to climate change.
5. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt unsuccessfully sued to overturn the EPA’s determination that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health, a finding that has enabled the agency to take the first-ever steps to reduce climate pollution.
6. Pruitt is suing the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers to block the Clean Water Protection Rule, an important, science-based framework for protecting national park waters.
7. Pruitt urged the Department of the Interior not to strengthen the Stream Protection Rule, a regulation designed to protect park waterways from mining pollution.
8. Pruitt joined 20 state attorneys general from across the country in a failed lawsuit attempting to block the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, a plan for restoring clean water in the Chesapeake watershed, which is home to more than 50 national park sites.
9. Pruitt stated that an EPA-mandated plan to limit haze pollution in Oklahoma “does nothing to address air quality with respect to public health,” despite medical research concluding that the plan would reduce deaths and instances of asthma. For the sake of our lungs and our health, an EPA administrator cannot simply dismiss medical evidence out of hand.
10. Pruitt opposed EPA amendments to a federal rule limiting haze pollution, objecting to the concept that all states have a responsibility to do their fair share to clean up park air. Pruitt challenged whether “pollutants from one state may eventually affect others,” despite well-established data that air pollution passes freely through state boundaries.
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The EPA makes important decisions affecting the health of both people and parks. NPCA cannot support an administrator with a history of active opposition to the mission, science and values the agency is tasked with upholding.
Please join NPCA in taking a stand against this disastrous nominee. Vital issues such as clean air and water should be non-partisan — and non-negotiable.
About the author
Kristen Brengel Senior Vice President of Government Affairs
As the Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Kristen Brengel leads staff on public lands conservation, natural and cultural resource issues, and park funding. Kristen is responsible for implementing our legislative strategies and working with the administration.