Drain the Swamp: EPA’s Polluting Pruitt would literally drain protected wetlands to benefit beef
Scott Pruitt has been on a listening tour of the United States to talk to local stakeholders about the Waters of the U.S. rule. You would think that the Environmental Protection Agency administrator—who is shielded by armed body guards at all times, even in the EPA offices—would be eager to give interviews to local media to get the word out. But no.
Here’s Natasha Geiling:
[F]or local media, securing access to Administrator Pruitt during the tour has proved a difficult task, with city and state newspapers from Colorado to South Carolina reporting a marked lack of transparency—and in at least one case, overt threats—when Pruitt came to town.
But for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which spent $117,375 in lobbying last year, getting an interview with Pruitt was apparently not a problem, with the administrator appearing in a recent video for the organization’s policy arm, Beltway Beef.
In the video, Pruitt uses industry talking points to incorrectly state that the Obama administration rule redefined federally-regulated waters as a “puddle, a dry creek bed, and ephemeral drainage ditches across the country.” In reality, the 2015 rule, which sought to clarify which waters fall under protection of the Clean Water Act, redefined federal waters as anything having a “significant nexus” to navigable waters —that definition included things like wetlands or seasonal streams, but not puddles.
But why expect accuracy in this matter from a guy who challenges some of the most fundamental underpinnings of science—including the very existence of the greenhouse effect?
To ensure that everybody knows exactly where he stands in this matter, Pruitt explains on the Beltway Beef video that it’s important for ranchers and farmers to make public comments on the Clean Water Rule before the August 28 deadline. The video then provides a link to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, an organization that has opposed the new rule.
Ethicists and former EPA officials have objected to this solicitation of views that everyone knows Pruitt is partial to hearing. The question is whether the Government Accountability Office will treat this effort the same as it did when Republicans complained that the Obama administration was soliciting views in support of the Waters of the U.S. rule via Twitter. It labeled that effort “covert propaganda” and improper “grassroots lobbying.” Will Pruitt get a similar scolding?