Despite his cries of “drain the swamp,” President Trump has stocked Washington DC full with the kinds of out-of-touch elites that he so routinely rails against. Among them, Scott Pruitt—recently named “Trump’s Worst Cabinet Member”—shines especially bright for his apparent sense of entitlement, his preference for first class air travel, and reverence for private industry groups that comes even at the expense of life-saving environmental protections.
Pruitt, for his part, tries his best to put on an aw-shucks, common man persona. He likes to talk about baseball and quote Old Time Yankee catcher Yogi Berra, which feels appropriate considering Pruitt’s policies would bring America back closer to the rampant pollution of Berra’s day.
In reality, Pruitt is grabbing perks, coupled with a lack of awareness, or at least concern, for the things American people really want. Like, for example the more than 6 in 10 Americans who believe EPA should be made stronger or remain at its current levels.
Pruitt has spent his entire career rubbing elbows with pals in the coal, oil and gas energy industries. He has dismantled essential EPA public health safe guards so that companies can increase profits even when that endangers public health. These industry-approved rollbacks don’t seem to account for the fact that these same EPA policies save lives and benefit communities by reducing the amount of dangerous pollution people are subjected to. He has reduced the agency’s ability to enforce the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, attacked the Clean Power Plan, and called for disastrous budget cuts to EPA that would cripple it for years to come.
It doesn’t appear that Pruitt sees any of this as a problem, and maybe that’s because he’s done all he can to isolate himself from the people who stand to be most adversely affected by his policies. He rarely meets with career EPA staffers who are the foundation of all the work the agency does, and has spent more than $100,000 on first class and military flights at the expense of taxpayers.
When pressed on why Pruitt was flying exclusively in first class, EPA said that a few uncomfortable experiences with passengers in economy class were enough to give him a blanket waiver to fly first. In economy class, Pruitt has to answer to the people whose air, water, and land is being made dirtier; in first, he can presumably be among friends. Pruitt recently said that he would begin flying in coach class again, though I have to imagine it will be with earplugs.
All of this is to say that Scott Pruitt is putting polluter profit above the safety and health of regular Americans. He’s shown indifference toward generations that will be left feeling the effects of a warming planet, and American communities that will grow sicker and dirtier as more pollution flows into our air and water.
Scott Pruitt apparently cares more about helping the elites. He certainly counts himself among their ranks. He has the plane tickets to prove it.