People, Environment

EPA Director Skips Climate Change in 1st Speech

EPA Director Skips Climate Change in 1st SpeechEPA Director Skips Climate Change in 1st Speech

Newly sworn-in US Environmental Protection Agency 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 on Tuesday.

During his first speech at the helm of the EPA, Pruitt did not mention climate change or any recent negative impact on the environment.

His only reference to the “toxic environment” was related to politics and how it damaged compromise, The Independent reported. 

The mission of EPA is written in statute and it is not to compromise with the oil and gas industry—industries which Pruitt often represented in lawsuits as attorney general and upon which the economy of his home state was heavily reliant.

EPA’s mission is to “protect human health and the environment—air, water and land”.

He declared that the EPA can be “pro-energy, pro-jobs and pro-environment”.

“We don’t have to choose between the two,” he said, adding that the EPA can “respect” the jobs created by the energy industry, Common Dreams reported.

Environmentalists were not impressed and it is hard to imagine EPA staffers, hundreds of whom had publicly opposed Pruitt’s nomination in the days before his confirmation as the new chief, were pleased.

“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, referring to the villain in the Harry Potter book series.

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.”

Known for his “skeptical” view of climate change, Pruitt once claimed that the subject was “far from settled”. He famously sued the EPA during his tenure as the attorney general of Oklahoma for the agency’s Clean Power Plan, a key Obama-era policy that tried to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions.

Environmental campaign groups have called him a “fossil fuel industry puppet” and “an enthusiastic shill for the fracking industry”.

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