Post-Pruitt EPA still scandal-ridden

Scott Pruitt (Official photo)

The scandal is nothing changed at the Environmental Protection Agency when Scott Pruitt resigned, and nothing will in the immediate future.

Coming from a generation that remembers orange-colored rivers and foul-smelling factories belching emissions directly into the sky, I have more of an appreciation for a commitment to breathable air and usable water than many profit-driven businessmen.

I don’t care about Pruitt’s $43,000 phone booth, his $50 a night Washington condo, the millions spent on his 24-hour-a-day security detail, the first class travel or pulling strings to get his wife a high-paying job.

The scandals around his personal gratification and entitlement are secondary to his unconscionable actions that will increase deaths and health problems for millions of Americans.

Scott Pruitt was hired to be the sledgehammer to wreck the EPA.

His resignation changes nothing.

William C. Janeway, executive director of the Adirondack Council, gave one example of how scaling back EPA regulations and rules will affect the Adirondacks –î better known as our tourism bread and butter.

Janeway explained that Pruitt had refused to order Midwest power plants and factories to use pollution control equipment that would prevent acid rain in the Adirondacks.

He called on the next administrator to “faithfully carry out the mandates of the Clean Air Act.”

That is unlikely.

I thought it was instructive that Rep. Elise Stefanik, who had called for Pruitt to resign, while applauding his resignation and criticizing his scandalous behavior, made no mention of the rollbacks in environmental protections that could hurt her district.

This is the most pressing issue facing us as a region.

Articles by the Journal of American Medical Association and the New York Times have chronicled the repeal or rollback of more than 70 rules and regulations regarding air pollution and emissions, fossil fuel drilling and extractions, standards for infrastructure and planning and protections for animals.

The JAMA article concluded these actions “are likely to make breathing more difficult.”

That’s kind of a big one.

We are being told these rules and regulations are overly burdensome and bad for business.

Not being able to breathe or drink the water is worse for business.

What is perhaps even worse is that Pruitt oversaw an attack on using science in compiling data.

He signed a rule that the EPA could only use research that was totally accessible to the public. That sounds like an attempt at transparency, but it is not. The problem is that many health studies are based on individual health records that cannot be made public.

If you can’t report the results of the poor health of real people, then the results will be incomplete at best.

After more than an hour of reviewing the rollbacks of various rules and regulations by the EPA, it was clear they cumulatively could have a devastating affect on our environment and affect our health. Some of the rules are hard to understand, others reference chemicals I have never heard of, but it is obvious the standards are being walked back.

The JAMA article concludes this will be good business for physicians.

“The manifestation of these changes is likely to be an increase in disease and number of deaths. Respiratory and cardiovascular problems are most likely, but a wide variety of conditions are likely to be seen. People working with chemicals in industrial settings will also be affected, as will people who live in areas with high concentrations of power plants such as the Ohio River Valley from Indiana to Pennsylvania and in the southeast from Alabama and Georgia to Maryland.”

Scott Pruitt may be gone from the EPA, but the scandal continues.

Ken Tingley is the editor of the Post-Star newspaper, based in Glens Falls.

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