Attacks on the EPA increase, as cronyism continues, but while solar jobs soar


President Trump’s nomination for head of the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, known for his climate denial and fossil fuel connections, is facing strong opposition ahead of his Senate confirmation: he has been hit with a lawsuit calling for him to release two years worth of correspondence with the fossil fuel industry, and another suit filed to stop him destroying those records, while more than 400 former EPA staffers have called on the Senate not to confirm him, based on his long record of suing the agency and challenging its science.  Republicans are hitting the EPA’s science-based rulemaking – and its very existence – with a hearing to “make the EPA great again,”  and a bill has been introduced to abolish it altogether.  Opposition is now rallying after the Army’s acceptance of the route for the Dakota Access Pipeline in the wake of President Trump’s executive order approving it.  Meanwhile, the relentless march of renewable energy continues, with the annual 2016 solar census showing that solar jobs grew by 25 percent in the last year, with the solar industry providing one in every 50 new U.S. jobs. 



Key Points

  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, whose nomination as head of the EPA is soon to be voted on by the Senate, has a history of climate science denial, and has filed – on behalf of the fossil fuel industry – 14 lawsuits against it, a cause of great concern to the more than 400 former EPA staffers who have called for the Senate to reject his nomination. Pruitt risks turning the EPA into a fossil fuel industry consulting firm. National investigative watchdog group the Centre for Media and Democracy has this week alleged in a new lawsuit that Pruitt has violated the Oklahoma Open Records Act for failing for more than two years to provide public access to more than 3000 official emails and documents, and is seeking an injunction to prevent him from destroying any documents relevant to the group’s open records requests.
  • While many on the Hill say a Bill introduced to congress last week to “terminate” the EPA altogether is unlikely to gain much traction, the Trump team has signalled deep cuts to funding, staff and programs.  A hearing held this week by House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX), entitled “Make the EPA Great Again” discussed the re-introduction of Smith’s “Secret Science Reform Act,” rejected by Obama, but now back in play, that would make the EPA only rely on science that is in the public domain. Scientists remain deeply concerned at what Republicans are planning to the EPA on behalf of the dirty energy industry.
  • Meanwhile yet another report shows more evidence for the inexorable rise of renewable energy as the Solar Foundation’s 2016 solar job census shows jobs in the solar industry have nearly tripled since 2010, increasing on average around 20 percent a year for the last four years.  One in every 50 new U.S. jobs is now in the solar industry. Former President Jimmy Carter called on Trump to embrace renewable energy and the jobs it could bring. Pushback from the other direction has come from a delegation of Republican elder statesmen, led by former Secretary of State James A Baker III,  who met with White House staff to call for a carbon tax.






  • “Every EPA Administrator has a fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest based on current law and the best available science. Mr Pruitt’s record raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with the longstanding tenets of U.S. Environmental Law” – letter to the U.S. Senate from 450 former EPA employees
  • “Pruitt shares Trump’s ignorant skepticism about the global threat from climate change. Like Trump, Pruitt disbelieves the scientific consensus that human actions play a significant role in heating up the planet and that a crisis looms.” – LA Times Editorial
  • “Smith is making a concerted effort to turn a committee meant to foster the innovation of the future into one that does the bidding of 19th century fossil fuel companies — and it’s deeply dangerous.  Yelling at science will never change its findings that climate change is a very real threat to every one of our communities.” – Liz Perera, Sierra Club climate policy director