Activists are scoffing as EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s mission to completely redefine what it means to be a “true” environmentalist.
Activist groups are not enthused with Pruitt’s plan to make environmentalism less interested in eventually destroying fossil fuels and more interested in environmental stewardship.
“I’ve been asking the question lately, what is true environmentalism? What do you consider true environmentalism? And from my perspective, it’s environmental stewardship, not prohibition,” Pruitt said at an event in November hosted by The Federalist Society.
He has suggested elsewhere that environmentalists should reconsider advocating for a complete end to all forms of fossil fuels.
“If you are of the side that says we exist to serve creation, then you have no trouble putting up a fence and saying, ‘do not use’ oil or coal, even if it might mean misery for millions in the developing world,” he said in an interview with National Review in December.
Some of the oldest environmentalist groups in the country pushed back against Pruitt’s commentary.
“I find myself wondering whether Scott Pruitt actually believes this stuff, or if he’s a careful student of George Orwell,” Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told reporters Wednesday about the agency chief’s plans.
“If he repeats something enough, again and again and again, at least some portion of the public will begin to believe it,” said Brune, whose group at one time supported natural gas as an effective way to limit greenhouse gases.
Brune’s group received more than $25 million from now-deceased former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon to fund the various environmental causes. Sierra Club’s former director, Carl Pope, allegedly cavorted with the now-deceased energy tycoon in 2007 for the expressed purposes of championing liquefied natural gas production.
Other environmentalists mirrored Brune’s position, but added their own spin. Pruitt’s position is not very sophisticated and relies mostly on political slogans, according to Aseem Prakash, director of Washington University’s Center for Environmental Politics.
“This is not an intellectual argument. I don’t think he is trying to redefine environmentalism at an intellectual level,” he said in an interview Wednesday with The Hill. “This is pandering to a political constituency, and using environmentalism and fossil fuels to fuel polarization.”
Yet, Pruitt’s comments are in line with his overall goal to refashion the EPA, transitioning the agency from fighting man-made global warming to protecting human health and the environment.
Conservatives like Pruitt have criticized former President Barack Obama’s agency administrators for prioritized legislation targeting climate change and carbon emission reductions over other regional environmental issues.
“Well, he left us with more Superfund sites than when he came in,” Pruitt told The Washington Examiner in November about the Obama administration’s handling of toxic waste sites. “He had Gold King [the 2015 mine wastewater spill] and Flint, Michigan [drinking water crisis]. He tried to regulate CO2 twice and flunked twice. Struck out. So, what’s so great about that record? I don’t know.”
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