When President-elect Donald J. Trump nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator December 8, environmentalists went ballistic.
They called it “a win for polluters and a loss for the American public,” said “Every American should be appalled,” likened it to “the fox guarding the henhouse,” and called Pruitt a “puppet of the fossil fuel industry.”
E&E News reported, “Environmentalists are preparing for war” and quoted Center for Biological Diversity attorney Bill Snape: “We suspected it would be bad, and it’s bad. It’s going to be about satisfying an incredibly narrow fossil fuel agenda.”
Religious environmentalists piled on, with the Evangelical Environmental Network releasing an open letter against Pruitt’s nomination, though that was countered by 49 evangelical leaders in another letter.
Mainstream media agreed. Lead paragraphs in The Washington Post and USA Today made it clear their authors consider Pruitt a bad choice, and the New York Times headline called Pruitt a “climate change denier.”
But as Michael Bastasch reported in The Daily Caller, there’s no evidence that Pruitt is a “climate denier.” The sole quote trotted out is the sentence from a May 2016 National Review column he wrote with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange: “Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind.” That’s patently true, as UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment reports have said repeatedly ever since 1992.
Now another religious environmental organization, The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation—a network of over evangelical 60 scholars (scientists, economists, theologians, ethicists, and policy experts) of which I’m the founder and national spokesman—has issued a new letter supporting Pruitt. Signed initially by over 100 scholars including 53 scientists (13 climate scientists), 14 economists and legal scholars, 29 theologians, philosophers, and ethicists, and 16 pastors and other religious leaders, with the list of signers growing rapidly, the letter says Pruitt embodies the integration of “science, economics, law, politics, and ethics, all of which are rooted in religious worldviews” that an EPA Administrator should grasp.
The letter points out that Pruitt supports the need for a federal EPA but wants its actions restricted to cross-state matters, leaving infra-state matters to state agencies—reflecting his commitment to Constitutional federalism. He thinks EPA regulations should be restricted to statutory boundaries set by Congress. He opposes collusive “sue-and-settle” and supports First Amendment-guaranteed free speech against government restrictions on debate over climate change. And, it says, as an evangelical, Pruitt has an unbending commitment to human life and health, especially to the protection of the most vulnerable in society—including the unborn.
The letter specifically rebuts the charge that Pruitt is a puppet of the fossil fuel industry, noting that he has litigated successfully “to require corporations—including the energy corporations so prominent in his state’s economy—to abide by environmental laws and regulations.”
Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.