PSR Statement on Appointment of Scott Pruitt to EPA
December 12, 2016
Val Wanger, MD 206-861-5767
Catherine Thomasson, MD 503-819-1170
Physicians for Social Responsibility strongly opposes the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to the important role of EPA Administrator. The Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act are strongly supported by Americans who understand that their health relies on these environmental protections. Pruitt's nomination poses a critical threat to the health of all Americans. Clean air, clean water, and a livable climate are foundational to human health.
The EPA is responsible for protecting the nation's air and waters, as well as regulating the fossil fuel emissions causing climate change. Scott Pruitt's online bio describes him as a "leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda," yet the health of Americans has greatly improved over the years with reduction in water and air pollution. An individual staunchly opposed to the basic tenets of the organization he is tasked to lead is a deeply concerning selection.
As healthcare providers and allies, PSR is troubled by Pruitt's history of stances that prioritize industry over human health. In 2015, Pruitt sued the EPA over the Clean Water Rule, a rule which protects the headlands of rivers and wetlands. A third of river-fed drinking water in the U.S. is protected by this Rule. PSR believes safe drinking water is among the most fundamental precepts of public health and dismantling regulations that keep toxics out of our water will lead to higher rates of disease.
As Attorney General, Pruitt has also fought to make Oklahoman health worse. Pruitt sued the EPA against regulations on mercury emitted from coal plants and lost. Yet earlier this year, eight additional lakes in Oklahoma were added to the list of 32 lakes with fish advisories for high levels of mercury of which a majority comes from burning coal. He also moved to block the Regional Haze Rule which keeps air around national parks clear, yet 15 of the 16 counties that measured air quality in Oklahoma recently studied received an "F" grade by the American Lung Association for high ozone or particulate levels. This means that children are especially at risk for autism, lowered IQ from mercury and may have lower lung capacity, higher rates asthma attacks in the state of Oklahoma. Pruitt's opposition to portions of the Clean Air Act show blatant disregard for the 205,000 early deaths prevented in just one year (1990) by pollution reduction due to the Clean Air Act.
Just as concerning is Pruitt's status as a climate change denier and tireless advocate for the oil and gas industry. Climate change is among the greatest threats to human health in modern times. From vector borne disease and heat-related illness to extreme weather and food insecurity, climate change impacts us all, and disproportionately impacts our most vulnerable communities. Dismantling the EPA, as Pruitt's nomination implies, has dire implications for the health of us all.
Based on these striking threats to human health and concordant with our responsibility as healthcare professionals and allies, PSR calls on Congress to reject Scott Pruitt's nomination to lead the EPA.