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Quote:Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is nothing if not lawyerly. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, he waged war against Obama-era environmental rules by arguing on technicalities. He billed himself as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” Since taking over the agency he sued more than a dozen times, he has defended the Trump administration’s deregulatory campaign in complex legalese, arguing that the issue is not how best to protect the environment and public health, but how to adhere to his narrow interpretation of the EPA’s mandate under the law. He even thanked a Time Magazine reporter for calling him “lawyerly” in an interview last month. For that, Rex J. Zedalis, who taught Pruitt at the University of Tulsa’s law school in the early 1990s, said he has “tossed and turned” for “countless nights.” “I confess regret for whatever small role I played in unleashing Administrator Pruitt on the unsuspecting public,” Zedalis wrote in an Op-Ed published Monday in The Santa Fe New Mexican. “Surely I’m at least partially to blame for failing to nurture in him a deep regard for seeing law as an instrument for addressing real facts on the ground, not simply implementing a political ideology, regardless the facts.”
Scott Pruitt’s Professor Regrets ‘Unleashing’ EPA Chief On 'Unsuspecting Public’ | HuffPost

Quote:Less than a week after the inauguration, the Trump administration has already gagged employees at two federal agencies. Memos obtained by various media outlets show that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are now blocked from communicating with the public and the press. At the EPA, whose grants and contract budget have also been frozen, employees are not allowed to talk about this change to reporters or on social media. The EPA is responsible for passing and upholding regulations on issues such as clean air and water and the carbon emissions responsible for global warming. The nominee for EPA head, Scott Pruitt, has made a career out of suing the EPA and trying to weaken its environmental regulations.
Trump silences government scientists with gag orders - The Verge

Quote:President Donald Trump’s plan to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s $8.3 billion budget would almost certainly mean making deep cuts to programs that protect the air and water and invoke fierce protests from environmentalists. That’s because roughly two out of every five dollars dedicated to the EPA ends up steered to state, tribal and local governments. Even Trump’s own advisers and the new EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, say the agency’s state environmental grants are off limits. That means the administration would need to reduce the EPA’s already tight budget for enforcing environmental laws and its legally mandated portfolio of other work, said John Coequyt, global climate policy director for the Sierra Club.
Trump's EPA Budget Cuts May Unleash a Backlash as Risks Remain - Bloomberg

Quote:The Environmental Protection Agency’s office of inspector general plans to look into whether Administrator Scott Pruitt adhered to agency policies when he traveled to Oklahoma dozens of times during his first six months as administrator. Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter Monday to the EPA inspector general requesting a review of Pruitt’s travels to his home state at taxpayers’ expense. In a memo issued Monday, the inspector general’s office also said the inquiry was initiated in response to a complaint it received on its hotline. The IG’s office will look into the frequency, cost, and extent of Pruitt’s travel to Oklahoma through July 31. It will seek to determine whether the EPA’s travel policies and procedures were followed by Pruitt and other agency staff as part of those trips. Finally, the office will look at whether the agency’s policies and procedures are sufficiently designed to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse as they relate to Pruitt’s travel, including his trips to Oklahoma.
EPA to investigate Scott Pruitt’s frequent trips to Oklahoma at taxpayer expense – ThinkProgress
Quote:President Donald Trump’s nominee for deputy administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) admitted he viewed a plan developed by a top coal producer to roll back environmental regulations at the agency and attended meetings on Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants. Testifying at his confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Andrew Wheeler said Murray Energy was one of his lobbying clients while working at the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels. But Wheeler said he de-registered himself as a Murray Energy lobbyist in August. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), in his questioning of Wheeler, said Robert Murray, the head of Murray Energy, “has said that he has a three-page plan that is being implemented by Scott Pruitt at the EPA. He said they’re already through the first page.” Wheeler, who previously worked on the staff of a top congressional climate science denier, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), acknowledged seeing a copy of Murray’s “action plan” earlier this year. Murray said he provided the plan to Trump in January to help the struggling coal industry. “I did not work on that [plan] or have a copy of that memo,” Wheeler said. “I saw it briefly at the beginning of year but don’t have possession of it. I looked at it.”
Trump’s choice for No. 2 at EPA admitted he saw coal baron’s action plan to dismantle agency – ThinkProgress

These guys are supposed to protect the environment. Instead they're just stooges for fossil fuel companies dismantling environmental protections.
A complete industry take-over of the EPA

Quote:A few dozen political appointees brought in under the Trump administration are driving policy. At least 16 of the 45 appointees worked for industries such as oil, coal and chemicals, as this CIP graphic shows. Four of these people — and another 21 — worked for, or donated to, politicians who have questioned established climate science, such as Pruitt and Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

Career staff members — lawyers, scientists, analysts — are largely being frozen out of decision-making, current and former agency employees say. These staffers rarely get face time with Pruitt and frequently receive top-down orders from political appointees with little room for debate. They must sometimes force their way into conversations about subjects in which they have expertise.

And that is a big mistake, said one of Pruitt’s predecessors. Career employees are “very dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, and they will change their ways of how they do that if they’re convinced you really want to accomplish that aim,” said Christine Todd Whitman, EPA administrator under President George W. Bush.

One such employee agreed. “I think it’s the fact that we’re not following regular procedures; we’re not sure of what the legal justification is for some of the things they’re asking us to do. We’re just kind of being told, ‘Do the opposite thing you did 18 months ago.’ That’s hard to swallow.”
The EPA staffers who spoke to the center say the isolation of Pruitt’s top staff from the rest of the agency limits the perspectives the administrator is exposed to before making decisions.

Two appointment calendars, covering a six-month period beginning in March, show that Pruitt hears overwhelmingly from industry. He was scheduled to meet 154 times during the period with officials from companies such as Exxon Mobil and trade associations such as the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s biggest lobby group. API was among at least 17 donors to Pruitt when he ran for state or federal office or led the Republican Attorneys General Association that have met with him as EPA administrator. Those same calendars indicate he saw only three groups representing environmental or public health interests, though an EPA press release says he met with two others.
2 dozen current and former EPA staffers explain how Trump is wrecking the agency - Vox
Quote:The Senate on Thursday confirmed William Wehrum to head the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Air and Radiation, making him one of the most powerful officials in the agency. Wehrum became only the second of President Trump’s EPA nominees to secure Senate confirmation. Senators approved his nomination on a 49-47 vote. Democrats and environmentalists lined up against Wehrum’s nomination, noting both his legal career and a controversial tenure at the EPA under President George W. Bush.

Wehrum was the acting director of the Air and Radiation Office during the Bush administration. But Senate Democrats blocked his nomination to hold the position full-time, questioning his ability to write strong environmental rules. During his confirmation process earlier this year, Democrats noted the 27 times federal courts had overturned regulations Wehrum worked on while at the agency. “Mr. Wehrum is essentially applying for the job he already had at EPA, and you would think that would be easy, but Mr. Wehrum's resume shows that a great deal of the work he did in his last job as Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation was not up to par,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said. “In this job, subpar work impacts millions of Americans, especially children and the most vulnerable among us.”
Senate confirms top air regulator at EPA | TheHill
Ever heard of an Environmental Protection Bureau that want to gut environmental protection legislation?

The dismantling of the EPA continues..

Quote:This week, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a case that will determine how far the federal government can go in safeguarding American waterways. At issue are challenges to the Clean Water Rule that began working its way up to the high court two years ago. Yet no matter what the Court decides, the Clean Water Rule’s days are almost certainly numbered as the Environmental Protection Agency finalizes a plan to kill the rule outright this fall.

The agency has come under fire from scientists, environmental advocates, and state officials for moves related to its repeal crusade, including cutting back on public input, an ominous sign that flies in the face of past EPA practice. Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, has a personal stake in this battle royale: He helped lead the multi-state legal assault against the rule during his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general, which culminated in National Association of Manufacturers v. Department of Defense, the case currently before the high court. The case hinges on whether a federal appeals court had the authority to stay the rule in 2015. As Oklahoma’s top law enforcement officer, Pruitt repeatedly blocked Obama’s environmental agenda with multi-state lawsuits. Characterizing the water-protection rule as a federal land grab, Pruitt and another opponent, Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, once smeared it as “the greatest threat to private property rights the modern era has ever seen.” The men went on to pledge a concerted campaign to kill the rule. “Failure is not an option,” they wrote.

Since becoming President Trump’s top environmental official, Pruitt has taken dead aim at the Clean Water Rule. Whether or not Pruitt can finally kill the rule, his assault on the EPA’s rulemaking process and its ability to enforce basic environmental standards is unlikely to slow down. At risk are not just clean water protections, but the ability of citizens influence how regulations are crafted and enforced, threats that do not bode well for American democracy.
Scott Pruitt’s Dirty War on Clean Water
After a sound proof phone boot, now this:

Quote:Using taxpayer dollars, the Environmental Protection Agency has hired a cutting-edge Republican PR firm that specializes in digging up opposition research to help Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office track and shape press coverage of the agency.

According to federal contracting records, earlier this month Pruitt’s office inked a no-bid $120,000 contract with Definers Corp., a Virginia-based public relations firm founded by Matt Rhoades, who managed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Following Romney’s defeat, Rhoades established America Rising, an ostensibly independent political action committee that works closely with the Republican National Committee and Republican candidates to mine damning information on opponents. Other higher-ups at Definers include former RNC research director Joe Pounder, who’s been described as “a master of opposition research,” and senior vice president Colin Reed, an oppo-research guru billed as “among the leaders of the war on [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren.”
The EPA Is Using Taxpayer Dollars to Track the Press | New Republic
How about this for a witch hunt..

Quote:Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who spoke up about Trump administration policies had their emails scrutinized by a lawyer working for a Republican campaign research group, according to a report published Sunday by The New York Times.  That research group, America Rising, is affiliated with another company that has been hired by the EPA to do "media monitoring," raising concerns among agency employees that the agency is clamping down on those with dissenting views, the newspaper reported.  According to The Times, three employees said they spoke up, either during meetings, in letters or through public demonstrations, to express concerns about the direction of the EPA under Trump. Days later, the lawyer affiliated with America Rising submitted requests for the employees' emails that mentioned either EPA chief Scott Pruitt or President Trump, the newspaper reported. “This is a witch hunt against EPA employees who are only trying to protect human health and the environment,” one employee told The Times.
EPA employees who criticized administration had emails scrutinized: report | TheHill
Hmm.. Civil war within the EPA

Quote:Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is connected in more than one way to the Republican consulting firm he approved for a federal contract to track and shape media coverage of the EPASince Friday, when Mother Jones uncovered that the EPA had hired Definers Corp. in a no-bid contract to monitor the media, there have been several new revelations about the firm and its affiliated groups. The New York Times reported that a vice president for Definers, Allan Blutstein, has submitted at least 40 Freedom of Information Requests in the last year. Many of the requests targeted EPA staffers and union representatives who have questioned the way Pruitt has run the agency.
The EPA’s Ties to a GOP Opposition Firm Go Far Beyond a PR Contract – Mother Jones

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