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It’s Time to Have a New Conversation About the EPA

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© Ashish Pandey

Despite grave concerns from all corners about his ability to lead an agency that protects the health and quality of life of Americans, Scott Pruitt is the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

His nomination raised red flags from concerned citizens to worried coastal businesses. His past track record had given us at Ocean Conservancy plenty of cause for concern, made even more acute during his confirmation hearing by his lack of understanding of fundamental threats to Americans’ health and the quality of our communities. Consider his dance around the issue of ocean acidification. He refused to acknowledge carbon emissions’ impact on our coastal communities, despite the millions of dollars it has cost oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest.

But Pruitt’s confirmation isn’t where the story ends. In fact, this is where it begins.

Because all of us, regardless of our political affiliations, value clean air and clean water. Thanks to the very same agency that Pruitt has sought to discredit and dismantle, we expect and assume we will have clean air and water. As former EPA administrator Bill Ruckelshaus reminded us in a recent interview, the EPA could easily have been called the Public Health Protection Agency.

Now is the time for a new conversation.

We have an opportunity to go back to basics, and to throw out the partisanship. A Republican president created the EPA. The landmark Clean Air Act was passed with overwhelming support from both parties. The Clean Water Act passed Congress with veto-proof majorities.  Today, America’s EPA helps each one of us, every single day, by ensuing that our air and water is clean and safe.

Now it’s our turn to step up and make sure the EPA can continue to protect Americans and our environment.

This is about healthy coastal communities. This is about our families. This is about all Americans’ right to clean air and clean water.  The time for this conversation is now.

If we see any effort by Pruitt to undermine the protections that keep us safe and healthy, we will fight. We are here to hold Pruitt accountable.

From my perspective, Scott Pruitt is now beholden to all 318 million of us that call this nation home.

That’s a powerful place to start. 

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