Calling EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt an environmental and ethical disaster, a crowd of agency staffers and supportive lawmakers on Tuesday demanded the Trump administration appointee quit or be fired. Speakers at the noontime rally in front of agency headquarters in downtown D.C. alternated between slamming Pruitt’s and Trump’s policies -- which they said would befoul the nation’s air and water to enhance polluters’ profits -- and Pruitt’s ethics.
An attorney with the agency’s St. Louis regional office held up a picture of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by an oil spill in New York harbor, showing what pollution was like before the agency began in 1970. Favorite ethics targets were Pruitt’s unauthorized $43,000 “secure” phone booth, his first-class air tickets, $2 million security detail, and his rental of a $50-a-night bedroom from a lobbyist whose business included clients with cases before EPA.
The Government Employees (AFGE), whose Local 3331 represents the agency’s staffers, called the rally – the second in a series – the day after Pruitt unveiled his latest scheme, restricting EPA decision-making only to cases where all the scientific evidence is final and publicized, the practical effect of which is to halt any decisions to protect the environment and people at all.
“You here are the EPA. Scott Pruitt is not the EPA. He’s the head of the Empower Polluters Always agency,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., one of several lawmakers to stick up for the EPA, which Trump and Pruitt want to cut by 25 percent in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
“I’m a child of Flint,” Michigan who still lives there, Kildee explained. “I never imagined a city of 100,000 people would be poisoned by its own government.” Pruitt, Kildee said, is carrying out the same philosophies as Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich. For Pruitt, “Profits come first. Clean air, clean water, the health and safety of our people – not so much.”
Other speakers agreed. And all pledged to “have the backs” of the EPA workers as they fight Pruitt and Trump, and to protect the nation’s air, water, land and people.
“My first job was as an intern at EPA” in 1979 in Chicago, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said. “When Ronald Reagan got in, he fired all the interns. I got a full-time job,” but then Reagan’s EPA put him on “regulatory reform…to gut the Clean Air Act. I resigned in protest. Don’t do that. Stay here. We need you,” he implored the workers.
- Mark Gruenberg, PAI News; photos by Chris Garlock