In a move that can only be described as “devastating,” Scott Pruitt has been confirmed as the next director of the EPA. Just as someone who knows nothing about what it takes to run a public school is now in charge of our nation’s education system, someone who has been described as a “puppet of the fossil fuel industry” and who has actively fought to remove restrictions that protect our planet, is now in charge of the EPA.
Georgia’s own Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue backed Pruitt’s confirmation. In an emailed statement to WABE, director of the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter and mayor of Clarkston, Ted Terry, said, “We are deeply disappointed in Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator David Perdue, who were elected to represent our communities’ best interests, for failing to protect Georgia families in favor of corporate greed.”
There are two EPA initiatives that started during Obama’s presidency that Trump vows to undo: the Clean Power Plan, which fights climate change by closing coal-fired power plants, and Waters of the United States rule, which defines which bodies of water are covered by the Clean Water Act. Pruitt, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, worked with then-Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, to block these rules.
Protecting water and air from pollution are two issues that should be close to every Georgian’s heart. The National Response Center’s 2015 spill report concluded that in that year Georgia experienced 557 chemical spills, leading to to 29 fatalities, 37 hospitalizations, and 1,125 evacuations, not to mention the unquantifiable amount of destruction and contamination of Georgian environment and resources.
In fact, pollution spills and runoff are so frequent in Georgia that the Georgia Water Coalition, a group of 228 conservation and environmental organizations, has compiled a list of “the Dirty Dozen” or the twelve worst offenses to Georgia’s waterways. These offenses include hazardous waste sites so bad that they threaten public health.
Clean air is another topic that should concern Georgians. We all need to be able to breathe. The CDC found that 11 percent of Georgian children, age 0-4, suffer from asthma. That’s twice the national average for that age group. Lawmakers who choose big business and profits over the health of young children don’t deserve our votes.
With Scott Pruitt running the EPA, we can only assume there will be immediate movements to repeal important environmental protection laws. We must not only fight for those laws to stay in place, but we must also seek to reduce our carbon footprints on a personal level. Without someone responsible leading the nation’s environmental protection efforts, it’s our responsibility to do all that we can to live more sustainably.