With Senate Vote on Trump EPA Looming, Hundreds More Former EPA Officials Urge Rejection of Pruitt

List of Signatures by Former EPA Employees Opposing Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator Grows to 773

Washington, D.C. – With a vote expected soon in the Senate on Trump’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator, an additional 326 former EPA officials have stepped forward to publicly oppose Pruitt’s confirmation – bringing the total to 773.

Pruitt, a close ally of the oil and gas industry, has made a career of suing EPA and attacking the idea of federal action to reduce pollution – while simultaneously failing to enforce environmental laws in his own state and shutting down the Environmental Protection Unit in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.

On February 6, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) sent a letter to all U.S. Senators signed by 447 former EPA managers, scientists, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals who strongly oppose Pruitt’s confirmation.  Over the 10 days since then, an additional 326 have stepped forward and signed the letter. And so yesterday, EIP sent an updated version of the letter to the Senate with a total of 773 signatures.

“My life’s work is protecting public health and the environment, so I must speak out against this unqualified extremist,” said one of the letter’s signatories, Ellen Spitalnik, an environmental consultant and former EPA attorney who served Republican and Democratic administrations from 1980 to 2002.

“Scott Pruitt represents what we environmental lawyers call an ‘imminent and substantial endangerment’ to our health and environment,” Spitalnik said. “He threatens the very integrity of EPA and must not be allowed to continue shutting down environmental enforcement, disregarding science and putting private interests above public good.”

The letter signed by the former EPA officials reads in part: “Mr. Pruitt’s record and public statements strongly suggest that he does not agree with the underlying principles of our environmental statutes. Mr. Pruitt has shown no interest in enforcing those laws, a critically important function for EPA.”

Today, the Senate may take a procedural roll call on Pruitt’s nomination to lead EPA.  After that, Democrats may be allowed 30 hours of post-cloture debate – meaning that a final vote by the Senate on Pruitt’s confirmation could happen as early as Friday.  But because the Senate is not in session the following week, the final vote could potentially spill over into the week of February 27 – March 3.

Senate Democrats have urged more time to scrutinize Pruitt’s record before a vote, because of a pending court case regarding Pruitt’s email records and his communications with oil and gas companies.

A Pulitzer-Prize winning 2014 New York Times investigation found that Pruitt took a letter written by oil and gas industry lobbyists opposing EPA regulations, copied it word for word onto his own stationery, and sent it to EPA as the official position of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office.

Joseph M. Santarella Jr., an assistant regional counsel and EPA enforcement attorney under the George H.W. Bush and Clinton Administrations who signed the letter to the Senate, said: “Mr. Pruitt’s aggressive efforts as the Oklahoma Attorney General to challenge and thwart EPA’s authority to address transboundary pollution that cross state lines as mandated by the Clean Air Act and other federal environmental statutes reflect a fundamental lack of understanding and respect for the vital role that EPA plays in ensuring clean air and water for every American no matter where they live or their color or creed.”

Another of the signatories, Judith Enck, an EPA Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey from 2010 until last month, said:  “In looking at Attorney General Pruitt’s record in Oklahoma and his comments at his confirmation hearing, it is clear that he will launch an unprecedented attack on basic environmental protections that will result in more pollution and illnesses for the American people. He will do permanent damage to the work of the EPA.”

The letter to the Senate was circulated by the Environmental Integrity Project is a 15-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington D.C., that is dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.

Read the updated letter.


Media Contact:  Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project (202) 888-2703 or tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org