During his rule as EPA administrator Scott Pruitt waged war on science. He ignored evidence, undermined scientific research programs, purged scientists, and demoted employees who disagreed with him. He has also replaced many of the EPA’s independent scientific advisors with industry insiders.
Incredible as it may sound Pruitt made it known that he does not support fact based policy decisions. He refused to craft policy based on science and he repeatedly made inaccurate scientific claims. This includes untruthful statements intended to undermine the veracity of anthropogenic climate change. He once said, “I would not agree that [carbon dioxide]’s a primary contributor to the
global warming that we see.”
A couple of months before he resigned Pruitt advanced a proposal to grant himself the power to censor science by giving himself the authority to determine which scientific findings would be used to set new health and environmental standards.
Pruitt also undermined science in other ways. He has prevented EPA policymakers from using scientific studies unless the raw data behind them is made public. As a consequence the EPA can no longer base policy decisions on scientific studies that rely on information like medical studies, personal health data, and clinical reports. This compels the EPA to subject high quality research to untenable levels of disclosure. The rule favors industry by ignoring research that exposes the sources and affects of pollution and chemicals.
According to ThinkProgress, the EPA censored the facts about an acutely toxic pesticide called chlorpyrifos. Although the former EPA chief had proposed banning the neurotoxin, the EPA under Pruitt moved to protect it. One of Pruitt’s parting gifts to industry was the removal of restrictions for super-polluting trucks.
Pruitt is already infamous for killing the Clean Power Plan and encouraging Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. However, one of the most destructive and enduring aspects of his legacy will be his war on science.
In a speech commemorating Nelson Mandala’s 100th birthday, President Obama decried populist authoritarian governments who spin lies to feed a false narrative. “Without facts, there is no basis for cooperation.” Obama said. “Unfortunately, too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up.”
Pruitt’s actions as head of the EPA are part of a wider more sinister agenda. The war on science is an important front in the wider war against democracy.
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