Scott Pruitt Is Making the EPA Safe for Fossil Fuels Again

Tom Fox/TNS via ZUMA

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This is yesterday’s news, but I never got around to highlighting it. However, it’s worth noting, if only for the historical record:

Effective immediately, scientists who receive EPA funding cannot serve on the agency’s three major advisory groups…. “We want to ensure that there’s integrity in the process and that the scientists that are advising us are doing so without any type of appearance of conflict of interest,” EPA head Scott Pruitt said at a press conference announcing the directive.

The effect of this order is pretty obvious. Scientists who receive EPA funding are mostly academics who study climate change, dangerous chemicals, endangered species, and so forth. Get rid of those folks, and you can stock up the advisory groups with scientists hired by corporations, homebuilders, and coal companies. As near as I can tell, there’s barely even a pretense that there’s any other reason. Just a bit of obvious blather about conflicts of interest, along with some dog whistles to evangelicals.¹ And with that, the deed is done.

Those of us of a certain age have grim memories of James Watt, Reagan’s first secretary of the Interior. Scott Pruitt appears to be his identical twin separated at birth. Watt was eventually forced to resign, but not because he wanted to blanket every acre of wilderness with coal mines and oil drilling. It was because he told a racist joke. Unfortunately, Pruitt probably learned from that and will limit his actions to making America safe for fossil fuels.

¹In this case, it wasn’t really a dog whistle. Pruitt just straight up quoted from the Book of Joshua for no real reason. But in case you don’t know, the key word to watch for is “stewardship.” It sounds benign, but among evangelicals it’s the go-to word that describes the Lord’s plan: namely that he provided us lots of coal and oil and timber, and by God we should use it.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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