Tag Archives: EPA

They work for us, however …

A woman confronted Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday while Pruitt was having a meal in a restaurant.

Kristin Mink teaches school in Washington, D.C., and said she had a “civil” discussion with Pruitt about EPA policies, which she says hurts her children.

“We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment, someone who believes in climate change and takes it seriously for the benefit of all us, including our children,” Mink said, “I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.”

OK. Maybe it’s just me, but I happen to shrink from this kind of confrontation of public officials in that context. Do I detest the policies that Pruitt is enacting at EPA? Yes. Do I also detest the policies coming from the Oval Office? Again, yes.

This whole issue has come to the fore in recent days ever since White House press flack Sarah Hucakabee Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant. Then came U.S. Rep. Maxine Water, D-Calif., who has declared that it’s OK to harass Trump administration officials even when they’re on their own time with their own families.

Whoa! Again, I disagree.

Kristin Mink makes a valid point, which is that Pruitt and, indeed, Donald J. Trump all work for us. They are our employees. They owe it to us to be accountable for their actions and we have every right to confront them whenever we damn well feel like it, or so the belief goes.

I just don’t like the idea of confronting these individuals in that manner. I certainly understand that they work for me — and you! There happen to be plenty of ways to hold them accountable. I try to do that with this blog, for instance. You can write them. You can call their staffs and bitch at them.

Or … you can vote for officials who will select people to administer public policy more to your preference.

I’ve confronted a (former) public official only once in my life. It was early 1996. I was walking along a street in Washington, D.C., when I encountered former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who had just published a memoir in which he acknowledged that he knew as early as 1962 that the Vietnam War was a lost cause.

Well, I was one of the millions of young men who served for a time in that war. So … I told McNamara how angry I was to learn that my country sent me into harm’s way to participate in a war the former defense boss believed could not be won.

He thanked me for my comments. I thanked him for coming clean — finally! — and we parted ways. It was just him and me. McNamara is now deceased, so I’m the only party who can speak to what occurred that day in Washington.

I didn’t consider it in the moment to be a form of “harassment.” I do consider it harassment when you berate a public official who’s seeking to enjoy some private time.

At least they understand, however, that they work for us.

The ‘swamp’ is getting swampier

Good grief, man! Can anything persuade the president of the United States to dump the director of the Environmental Protection Agency?

EPA boss Scott Pruitt now reportedly is being investigated for pushing friends and allies to get his wife a $200,000 a year job somewhere in big business.

The ethical questions just keep piling up. Never mind that Pruitt is unfit to lead the agency charged with protecting the environment. He has zero interest in environmental protection. He appears more intent on environmental destruction. But these damn ethics issues keep eclipsing the policy debates.

He accepts a sweetheart rental agreement with an energy company lobbyist; he flies aboard luxury aircraft to conduct official business; he seeks to install a sound-proof phone booth in his D.C. office; he lobbies a fast-food corporate owner to get his wife a franchise.

Now we have these latest reports about Pruitt trying to obtain a high-paying gig for his wife.

Didn’t Donald John Trump Sr. promise to “drain the swamp”? Didn’t he say he would clean the place up, creating a squeaky-clean ethical environment?

This guy has to go. Now! Hit the road.

So should Scott Pruitt!

‘Haven’t paid … close attention’? Really, Mr. Speaker?

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan needs to be called out for telling a lie. So, I think I’ll do that.

He said this today in response to a question about whether he had faith in Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt:

“Frankly I haven’t paid that close attention to it … I don’t know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment.”

Really and truly, Mr. Speaker? He is saying that all this tumult over EPA Administrator Pruitt’s mounting ethical troubles have gone unnoticed by the nation’s third-in-line for the presidency. He hasn’t paid “close attention to it,” he said.

Good grief, Mr. Speaker. Do you expect anyone to believe this?

I am quite certain he knows quite enough to make a comment on Pruitt’s troubles. He just doesn’t want to say anything about it.

Let me refresh his memory: Pruitt secured a dirt-cheap rental agreement for himself and his wife from a lobbyist who represents a company that is subject to EPA rules and regulations; Pruitt has been spending extravagantly for such things as a “secure telephone booth” in his office; his travel tabs have been exorbitant as well.

These are ethical matters that keep on piling up.

It’s been in all the papers. Cable news networks have been reporting on these matters.

The speaker of the House hasn’t heard enough about it to make a comment, to answer a reporter’s simple and direct question?

I don’t believe the speaker is telling the truth.

Let’s not get physical with the media

Here’s yet another twist in the Trump administration’s ongoing conflict with the media. This one is a beaut.

Environmental Protection Agency officials forcibly escorted reporters from CNN and The Associated Press from a meeting room, barring them from covering a public event to discuss harmful chemicals in water.

EPA officials said there was a shortage of seats in the room. Reports indicate there were empty seats when EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spoke to the group gathered.

What’s going on here? Please tell me the Trump administration isn’t going to start kicking reporters out of these events because of some perceive “negative coverage” he might get.

According to CNN.com: Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, addressed the matter at the daily briefing. Sanders said the White House would “certainly” look into the matter, but said for now she would refer reporters to the EPA’s statement, explaining that she could not “speak to a situation that I don’t have a lot of visibility into.” 

Yes, Ms. Sanders, the White House needs to “look into the matter.” It also needs to allow the media unfettered access to events of public concern for all Americans.

There’s that thing called the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, too, that guarantees “freedom of the press.” Let ’em report … freely!

Jackson mess seems to fit a pattern

Let’s review for a brief moment some of Donald J. Trump’s key Cabinet appointments.

I thought it would be worthwhile to look back a bit in the wake of the Dr. Ronny Jackson nomination to become head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Jackson is a fine physician who has a good rapport with the president, which seems to be the major — perhaps the only — reason Trump selected him to lead the VA. He has no experience in leading an agency of such size and importance. His nomination is in dire peril over allegations of drinking on the job and over-prescribing of medicine.

  • Dr. Ben Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon who now runs the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His experience in running a huge federal agency? None, although he said he once visited a public housing complex.
  • Betsy DeVos was educated in private schools; she sent her children to private schools. She has no direct experience or exposure to public education. Yet she runs the U.S. Department of (public) Education.
  • Rick Perry once declared he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy. Now he is the secretary of the agency he once promised to wipe away.
  • Scott Pruitt served as Oklahoma attorney general and sued the federal government repeatedly over what he said were onerous regulations designed to protect our environment. Now he is head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Jim Bridenstine had no science background before Trump nominated him to lead NASA, the nation’s space agency.
  • The Trump administration has burned through four communications directors in less than 18 months. One of them had, um, no experience in the communications field.

Is there a pattern here? Sure there is. The fellow who nominated all of them to their high offices has no political/government/public service either.

The first public office the president of the United States ever sought was the one he occupies at this moment. He has no experience in government. None in public service.

He doesn’t know a damn thing about the value of public service, nor does he seem to appreciate why people serve the public.

There will be more drama and chaos to come. Of that I am certain.

But … the president tells it like it is.

Earth to POTUS: No ‘siege’ at EPA

Someone needs to explain to the president of the United States — in language a second-grader might understand — what a conflict of interest looks like.

It usually involves taking advantage of someone with a vested stake in a public policy, such as, oh, living for virtually free in a condo provided by a lobbyist whose interests might benefit from certain policies.

Such is the case with Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt, who rents a condo for $50 per night from an oil company lobbyist. The lobbyist is trying to curry favor with EPA on policies that would benefit the oil company.

Does one think that’s a conflict of interest? Yes! But if the answer is “no,” they need to look up the definition of the term.

Donald Trump says Pruitt is “totally under siege” by what he calls the “fake news media.”

Mr. President … ready my lips. No one is denying that the Pruitts are renting this condo from the lobbyist. The EPA director has offered some lame excuse that he pays that dirt-cheap rate only when he is staying there. How in the name of government ethics does that make it all right?

Pruitt was a bad choice to lead the EPA from the beginning, given his penchant for rolling back rules designed to, um, protect the environment. That he’s been revealed as someone who likes living high off the generosity of a lobbyist only makes matters worse.

So, Mr. President, stop with the “fake news” canard. It ain’t fake, sir. It’s true.

Fox News seeks to become ‘fake news’ network?

I have to give credit to a Fox News reporter, Ed Henry, for seeking some answers from Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt.

Hey, if the network allows more of this line of questioning, it will become part of the so-called “fake news” cabal that Donald Trump keeps excoriating.

Henry interviewed Pruitt about the ethics controversy that is boiling at Pruitt’s feet. He and his wife rented a pricey condo from an oil industry lobbyist for $50 a night. Henry asked Pruitt if that is the way to “drain the swamp” that the president keeps insisting is part of his Washington, D.C., agenda.

Pruitt said the question “isn’t remotely fair.” Actually, it was totally fair. I give Henry great credit for standing up to this guy.

Pruitt is unfit for the job anyway. That he would be taking what amounts to a gift from a lobbyist who is trying to influence EPA policy smacks of maximum conflict of interest.

I know it. Ed Henry knows it. It well might be that the president knows it. However, Pruitt pushes back by saying a tough question isn’t “remotely fair.”

Pruitt doesn’t get it. I doubt he will. He needs to go.

As for Fox News and one of its top-gun reporters, well done.

Hit the road, Mr. EPA Director

I’ll now join the chorus of those who want to see EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt tossed out of office. He should be shown the door and told to avoid letting it hit him in the backside as he hits the road.

The man was a terrible selection to lead an agency whose mission is to “protect” the environment. The former Oklahoma attorney general made a lot of noise suing the Obama administration, seeking to overturn regulations designed to do the very thing that the EPA is charged to do. The Environmental Protection Agency is now better named the “Environmental Destruction Agency.”

Now he’s in some serious trouble ethically. He and his wife rented a condo from an oil company lobbyist. They got into the place dirt cheap. Meanwhile, the lobbyist was trying to persuade the EPA to roll back regs the oil company the lobbyist was representing wanted rolled back.

Gosh! Do you think there might be a conflict of interest here? I do. So might the president of the United States. At least two Republican members of Congress have called on Pruitt to quit.

Here’s my favorite: Donald Trump has issued a tepid endorsement of Pruitt. And you know how those endorsements usually end up. Trump endorsed former White House strategist Stephen Bannon: gone. He did the same thing for former national security adviser H.R. McMaster: gone.

Trump’s statements of support are worth, oh, just about nothing. Which makes them worth just as much as damn near anything the president says in public, out loud, on the record.

Pruitt is a lousy choice to lead the EPA, even without this latest matter involving a serious breach of ethics.

Get him out of there, Mr. President.

EPA boss joins the ethical fray

Oh, my. The Donald J. Trump administration simply is the gift that keeps on giving.

The treasury secretary and his wife get dinged because of their spendy lifestyle; the president himself is under scrutiny over allegations that he might be violating the “emoluments clause” of the U.S. Constitution, the one that says he cannot profit personally while in office; the health secretary quits because of spendthrift habits.

Now the director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is being examined because he rents an apartment from the energy lobbyist.

Sheesh, man!

It’s bad enough that Pruitt has turned environmental protection into a sort of code for environmental destruction because of his penchant for rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations. Now there are accusations that he’s a sort of grifter, living off the good graces of people and interests with a direct tie to the policies the EPA is supposed to implement.

I’ve long thought that Pruitt was a bad fit an agency charged with protecting the environment. As Oklahoma attorney general, he made it his mission to sue the federal government constantly over rules and regulations intended to preserve and protect the only planet on which we live.

Then this guy disputes openly whether climate change is even occurring, let alone arguing that it isn’t likely caused by human beings, which of course runs counter to scientific analysis handed down over many years of study and research.

On top of all that … there are concerns about the EPA boss’s spending habits. He employs a huge security detail. CNN.com is reporting that “sources” suggest the rash of negative publicity is undermining him terribly and that his “goose is cooked.”

Hmm. We’ll  see about that.

I do not expect, in the event Pruitt joins the long list of Trump officials to hit the road, that Donald Trump is going to find a competent replacement. It’s just the new normal the president has established.

Ugghh!

This just in: Global warming is bad!

Someone ought to remind Scott Pruitt what the initials “EPA” mean.

They stand for “Environmental Protection Agency.” The man who runs the EPA is charged with protecting the environment, with searching for ways to maintain the integrity of the surroundings where we live.

But Pruitt has now declared that global warming — aka “climate change” — isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I believe the former Oklahoma attorney general is mistaken. Yes, it is a bad thing. It’s a very bad thing, dude.

As near as I can tell, global warming produces a number of potential catastrophes. The ice caps on both poles melt, resulting in an inexorable rise in sea levels; the North Pole ice cap is a prime hunting ground for polar bears and if they can’t hunt seals and walruses, they can’t eat and they die of starvation; the rising sea levels endanger our coastal marshes and, oh yeah, they also threaten the many urban areas that have sprung up on coasts all around the world.

The EPA director seems all too willing to dismiss the potential dangers posed by this phenomenon.

I won’t argue the point about the cause of global warming. Whether it’s manmade — which I believe it is — or whether it’s part of Earth’s epochal cycle, it’s a bad thing.

Why can’t the man in charge of the federal agency that is supposed to protect our environment concentrate his energy and attention on his fundamental duty?

Protect the planet, Mr. EPA Director!