President-elect Trump to Planet Earth: Drop dead
One day after a head-fake meeting with Al Gore, Donald Trump has announced a tool of the fossil fuel industry to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At the moment when urgent action is required on climate change, a doomed America will instead do nothing.
There was kind of an odd headline in the New York Times yesterday, about a Trump Tower meet-up that eventually brought Al Gore, the former-vice-president-turned-Nobel-laureate for his climate activism, face-to-face with Donald Trump. "Trump's Meeting With Al Gore Gives Environmental Activists Hope," the story blared. Odd, because not a single environmental activist was quoted expressing anything close to hope. That's because most environmentalists were already well aware that Trump's transition team is stacked to the gills with climate-change deniers and useful idiots for Big Oil billionaires. It's hard to imagine why Gore even took the meeting, largely with Trump's daughter Ivanka -- unless Ivanka has some scheme to market "climate boots," manufactured in a Vietnamese sweatshop.
I don't think that's hyperbole. You know, it was almost funny when Trump admitted he was the kind of father of who never changed his kids' diapers. It's not a joke, though, when you see that Trump is the kind of grandfather who'll willingly bequeath a world of floods, drought, political upheaval and species extinction to his heirs. In New York City tabloid speak that The Donald might understand best, this is: "Trump To Planet: Drop Dead."
As Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt has been leading the charge of so-called "red states" against environmental regulations by the federal agency he's now been nominated to lead. In particular, Pruitt has led a coalition of mostly Republican-led states in fighting the Obama-backed Clean Power Plan, which aims to sharply curb carbon pollution from power plants -- the leading U.S. contributor to global warming -- over 14 years. The Oklahoman claims it's all a matter of, ahem, states' rights. In first running for his post in 2010, Pruitt blamed Washington for "a one-size-fits-all strategy, a command-and-control kind of approach, and we've got to make sure we know how to respond to that." After he was elected, one of his first actions was fighting the EPA's rules to reduce haze from coal-fired power plants in Southwestern Oklahoma. I mean, who wants his voters to be able to breathe, right?
Pruitt's prairie populism is a bunch of hogwash. Everything he does, he does not for the people of his Sooner State but for his big-money corporate donors from the nation of Big Oil. Indeed, in 2014 the New York Times obtained Pruitt's official emails and learned that a three-page letter the Oklahoma attorney general had fired off to the EPA, contesting the government's findings about serious air pollution from fracking rigs, had in fact been drafted by the lobbyist for one of the state's largest oil-and-gas firms, Devon Energy. Pruitt had only changed a couple of words. "Outstanding!" the oil lobbyist chirped.
Who knew that Trump was "draining the swamp" only so it could be fracked? Indeed, the Times found that "(e)nergy lobbyists drafted letters for him to send to the E.P.A., the Interior Department, the Office of Management and Budget and even President Obama." In return, Pruitt's campaign coffers were filled to the brim.
When the attorney general ran for re-election in 2014, he named as his campaign co-chair billionaire Harold Hamm, who has major drilling interests in both Oklahoma and in North Dakota, near where Native Americans and others are currently protesting the Dakota Access pipeline. (Hamm is also close friends with Donald Trump...it's a small world, after all.) At the same time, the Times reported, Pruitt allied with a Hamm-linked group to challenge the U.S. Interior Department on designations of protected wildlife species that Hamm said were interfering with oil-and-gas leases.
But Pruitt's reign in Oklahoma wasn't just a threat to the lesser prairie chicken, one of those endangered species. Humans have also been endangered by the state's largely unchecked fracking business. During his tenure, Oklahoma has been rattled by hundreds of earthquakes that have damaged homes and property --largely the result, scientists have discovered, from the disposal of billions of gallons of fracking wastewater underground.
So you think Pruitt would have learned his lesson -- that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature. Instead, the entire United States and, in essence, the world will now be Pruitt's canvass as he executes Trump's unholy war to show that climate science is a hoax and that America can magically resurrect coal and again burn the world's dirtiest fuel.
Of course, in true Trumpian fashion, the president-elect all but buried news of Pruitt's nomination to the EPA in a blizzard of news, naming yet another general to the Cabinet (what is this, "Seven Days in May"?) at Homeland Security and launching 1,000 GIFs in Twitter with his selection of WWE wrestling honcho Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration. Don't be fooled -- Pruitt and the looming lack of environmental protection is the real body slam to the American Dream.
Of course, Pruitt still requires confirmation by the Senate. The existential threat, to borrow a phrase, posed by Trump's environmental policies and now by his reckless hires are much too great to take sitting down. Even if it's the proverbial "lost cause," citizens should flood the zone and let Sen. Pat Toomey (who, after all, owes a huge debt to his billionaire environmentalist supporter Mike Bloomberg) know (office phone: (215) 241-1090 ) that Scott Pruitt at EPA is #NotNormal. Trump's worst policies can't just be opposed. They must be resisted. As Trump's incoming SBA administrator might say, "Are you ready to rumble?!!"