Dear members of Congress,
In his five months as EPA Administrator, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is an aggregating impeachable offense, ever giving fuller meaning to Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 65 elaboration of what constitutes “high crimes and misdemeanors,” to wit: Impeachable offenses arise from the “abuse or violation of some public trust” and “relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”
Riding into office on the back of 14 lawsuits he filed against the EPA, Pruitt took his oath of office to uphold the laws of the land and promptly proceeded to do just the opposite. Using the mantra of “states’ rights” as his corporate fig leaf and wildly accusing EPA scientists of being unscientific, he has moved to “undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules,” according to the July 1, 2017 New York Times.
His tenure thus far at the EPA is the stuff of corporate wish lists: meeting privately with the worst industrial perpetrators of silent violence (charitably described as “pollution”) and huddling with industry lobbyists and corporate lawyers who are eager for Pruitt to dismantle his own agency ― the federal manager of environmental violence to air, water, soil and food.
Pruitt is rolling over and stifling the mission of EPA’s scientists, legal experts and other specialists to protect Americans families from pollution hot spots, which disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities.
Mr. Pruitt makes himself vulnerable, with all the ex parte contacts and corporate advisors to many serious offenses, including: a) violation of the procedures of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, b) conflict of interest rules, c) violation of both criminal and civil laws by the overreaching industry lobbyists who constitute Pruitt’s tight cadre of clenched-jawed political appointees. History provides precedents of how the boundless zealotry of new wrecking crews ultimately leads to self-inflicted wounds and scandals.
Under Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution, the president, vice president and all civil Officers of the United States “may be impeached and, if convicted by the Senate, shall be removed from office.” Scott Pruitt is in the category of a “civil Officer.”
Republicans in the House of Representatives are quite familiar with trying to impeach a civil officer. For many months prior to the November election, they were hounding, with baseless impeachment threats, John Koskinen, then-director of the IRS and one of the most honorable civil servants in a generation. So fervid and ill-tempered was their partisan zeal that they also took it out on the IRS’s budget, already lower than it was several years earlier, and cut it further to the bone. This fulminating vendetta, widely reported, has led to millions of taxpayers waiting on the phone with the IRS to get served or not be served at all. Most ironically, the Republicans assured that the woefully understaffed IRS could collect even less of the estimated $350 billion in annual unpaid taxes, thereby expanding the federal deficit they so often decry for political expediency.
Pruitt, like most captured corporatists, has ignored the objections to his policies from the 15,000 employees of the EPA, hoping that many will leave the agency and further weaken the environmental health and safety efforts that he abhors. He doesn’t want them around because he cannot rebut their scientific arguments for retaining existing standards, which would protect our environment from deadly toxins. He is also hostile to the “precautionary principle” which shifts the burden of proof to the progenitors of new chemical or particulate or gas into the environment.
When you go through the list of health standards slated for Pruitt’s abolition, you wonder whether there are any limits to his cold-blooded, corporatized agenda. So extreme is his corporate ardor that there will undoubtedly be lawless actions coming from his precipitous acts – which he rightly believes will not be subject to restraint from the Trump White House or the Republican-controlled Congress.
Pruitt’s fevered mind thinks like this: Climate change is a hoax. Methane gas, which is 40 times more harmful to global warming than carbon dioxide, should not be subject to the modest Obama-era required disclosures. The industries that are most responsible for pollution should be in charge of their own enforcement. The EPA’s already grossly inadequate budget should be cut further. Attempts to curb pollution in our air and waterways should be revoked. Pesticides like chlorpyrifos, found to be dangerous after years of study, should be pushed back for ‘reconsideration’ – in short to be shelved. Rules on methane leaks from drilling oil and gas wells should be obstructed through delays or revision.
Pruitt had a private meeting with corporate lobbyists at Trump International Hotel, which is a venue for recurring violations of the Emoluments Clause due to its Trump-enriching expenditures by foreign interests. That’s when you know that the officious Pruitt doesn’t even care about appearances, much less the perils of lawless and secretive influence-peddling that enriches President Trump’s investments.
With such arrogance, willful ignorance and a colossal incapacity to resonate with his agency’s mandated role to prevent cancer, respiratory diseases and human habitat destruction, Pruitt is heading for trouble.
His brief tenure as EPA administrator has already been defined by intensive abuse of power and the public trust, undermining the legitimacy of our government and the rule of law.
Members of Congress – Democratic and Republican – must ensure accountability for this rogue administrator. Take close note of his non-compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act and keep in mind that political ideologies will not protect your children or vulnerable relatives and friends form environmental toxins. Conservative lungs and other bodily organs are as vulnerable to pollution-bred terminal ailments and the violent effects of climate change, as their liberal counterparts.
If there was ever a time for Congressional maturity and respect for one of our founding fathers’ favorite words – posterity – now is that time.
Let’s be clear about what is at issue here. Pruitt is extinguishing life-saving and disease-preventing health standards that were vetted in open procedures, that were open to input by the commercial interested affected – which usually leads to diluting the final regulation – and which have solid scientific basis to protect vulnerable populations. Consequently, Pruitt’s rollbacks, suspensions or delays, if allowed to persist and expand, will lead loss and deprivation of American lives, including children – the future of our country – thereby increasing healthcare costs, family anguish and other disruptions of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Pruitt and his cohorts are a clear and present danger to America. He will demonstrate in the coming weeks and months how deserving he is of impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the U.S. Senate. That is, if he doesn’t resign or be forced to resign due to his own cruelty, recklessness and running afoul of the law.