Mr. Pruitt is now halfway through his second term as Attorney General for the state of Oklahoma. TriplePundit spoke with Johnson Bridgewater, president of the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club, about a potential EPA under Pruitt. Bridgewater has been up close and personal with Pruitt's blatant anti-environmental agenda.
"As soon as Pruitt came into office, he disbanded what was established as the Environmental Protection Unit," Bridgewater says. Established by Pruitt's predecessor, the unit was "tasked with working on environmental issues in the state of Oklahoma." The unit investigated issues such as illegal dumping, water contamination and oil refining.
"Since he has been in office, we are unaware of any major environmental issues he has taken on," Bridgewater says.
"Mr. Pruitt took that lawsuit out of action," Bridgewater recalls, instead "requesting a study."
The single largest environmental pollution case in the state, potentially impacting the water for thousands of Oklahoma residents, was thus shelved. No environmental oversight needed. But just in case, we'll study the issue, Pruitt concluded. If the study does amount to anything, any restriction on poultry waste dumping will be voluntary.
"That someone who has sued the federal government 14 times to claim regulation by litigation isn't appropriate is absolutely laughable," Bridgewater says.
With the fracking boom came a rumble -- specifically, the rumble of earthquakes. "The 21,000 earthquakes that we have had in the last six years [are] very clearly linked to the process of fracking and the oil and gas production that has resulted from it," Bridgewater says.
In response to the growing crisis, the Oklahoma Office of the Attorney General has been "completely silent."
What is less well known about Hamm is his role as the manager of Scott Pruitt's re-election campaign in 2014. Led by Hamm's Continental Resources, the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma funded as much as a third of Pruitt's campaign war chest.
For Bridgewater, this speaks to Pruitt's willingness to "bend over backward" in remuneration for his close financial ties to oil and gas interests.
"It's that blatant,"says Bridegwater. "... There is a very clear series of relationships that exist."
"We are most concerned over the simple fact that Scott Pruitt doesn't see climate change as a problem."
Putting someone who does not believe in climate change in charge of the very agency best equipped to deal with what is, in fact, accepted science is the core argument against Pruitt's nomination to head the EPA.
To drive the point home, Bridgewater emphasizes that Pruitt would be the first non-scientist EPA administrator.
"A model for how we would expect the EPA to work is basically to stand aside and let any and all energy extraction processes to move forward regardless of what appear to be the negative consequences," Bridgewater says.
It is a sad irony that Pruitt may well run the EPA.
"If you just look at the facts alone, it is very clear that he backs industry over environmental issues."
And Pruitt, Bridgewater insists, is not the man for the job.
Image credit: Gage Skidmore, courtesy Flickr