Originally published in the July edition of The Eastern Echo
With a new Trump official comes a new line of problems for the Democrats.
Scott Pruitt, a former attorney, State Senator, and Attorney General for Oklahoma, was tasked with removing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations put in place by the Obama administration when nominated by Trump back in February of last year. This is similar to what he did as acting Attorney General in Oklahoma, when he sued the EPA 14 times and killed the environmental protection unit in his own department.
Pruitt resigned amid numerous ethic scandals rising under his department. All of these were ways to help advance Pruitt’s personal agenda, including trying to get his wife a job at the agency and having his security detail run errands. Although he was effective in many key policy areas, such as advising Trump to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, signing a formal proposal to remove the Clean Power Plan put into action by the Obama administration, and reducing the standards for fuel emissions that would help cars average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, his ethic scandals got the best of Trump.
Pruitt easily could’ve gotten more done without the multiple ethical violations brought on by his behavior.
Trump seemed fond of Pruitt from a public relations standpoint and released a statement on Twitter saying the resignation was all up to Pruitt. Although this is doubtful, as the president has full control over who stays and goes in his cabinet, Trump seemed sincere in sending off an official who could have done more without the baggage of multiple scandals.
“Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” said Trump in a tweet.
Set to take Pruitt’s place is the deputy director of the EPA Andrew Wheeler. When he was a former lobbyist for Faegre Baker Daniels, he represented the chief executive officer of the Murray Energy Corporation, an influential and successful coal business. He also lobbied against the Obama administration’s environmental regulations.
Wheeler is an outspoken Climate Science denier who, according to Salon, is fond of climate-denying bloggers and right-wing media but doesn’t hold the same hostility towards them that Pruitt did.
“Man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” said Wheeler in a 2003 speech opposing climate bill legislation in the Senate.
It has been stated that Wheeler is likely to be more effective in removing more Obama age policies reguarding the environment, as he doesn’t have the same ethical violations hanging over his head. Although the Huffington Post reported Friday that Wheeler may face violations for two officials that were promoted to serve under him, although the EPA defended both aids when reaching out to the Post.
A Carlton study states that 97% of scientists agree that Climate Change is real and caused by humans. But lawmakers in Congress have taken, so far, 34.57 million dollars in oil and gas lobby money since the start of this year. The majority of these lawmakers are Republican. It’s clear that as long as big money industries, like Exxon and Koch, have the power to lobby millions of dollars into campaigns, federal agencies, and even Congress.
Without opposition by their base, Republican politicians can take corporate money to help run their campaigns. Their voters wouldn’t dare vote for a Democratic candidate, so naturally their base overlooks it. Until there is a change within the Republican base to stand up to big corporations, there will be no change in the stance on global warming within the Republican Party.