Scott Pruitt Is Toxic

It sometimes seems difficult to choose the worst member of Donald Trump’s cabinet–divided as that motley crew is between ignoramuses and zealots. (And yes, I realize the two categories aren’t mutually exclusive. Betsy DeVos is a case in point.)

But my vote goes to Scott Pruitt, who is genuinely dangerous because he isn’t an ignoramus. That Pruitt is in the pocket of fossil fuel interests is well known; his disregard for public health–for clean air and water–isn’t as widely recognized. And it is hard to understand why anyone, no matter how corrupt, would protect companies that produce poisonous chemicals.

Methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone, and trichloroethylene are toxic. There’s no question about that. The first two are directly related to deaths from inhalation related to their use in paint strippers. The third, commonly used in dry cleaning and in making refrigerants and previously used as an anesthetic, is tied to everything from liver and kidney damage, to a variety of birth defects.

All three chemicals were fast tracked to be banned by the EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act. “Were” is the operative term.

The EPA has announced the “indefinite postponement” of bans on certain uses of these three toxic chemicals, despite the fact that the Toxic Substances Control Act was the product of a bipartisan consensus.

The “indefinite postponement” of measures to protect public health joins all kinds of other nefarious and worrisome signals, including the hiring of manifestly unqualified people. Before he was forced to withdraw, Trump’s nominee to head the EPA chemical safety board was a lobbyist who supported manufacture of those not-banned chemicals. Pruitt himself summarily dismissed hundreds of real scientists–replacing them with people like a banking friend who’d been banned for life by the banking industry. (According to The Intercept, Pruitt had received loans from the friend’s bank.)

And then there’s Pruitt’s relentless attack on measures meant to combat climate change, reversing what had been U.S. leadership on the issue. There are daily news releases chronicling the efforts and successes of other countries; China, once the world’s biggest polluter is ramping up its pivot to clean energy. And just recently, headlines announced that Germans are periodically being paid to use energy.

Germany has spent $200 billion over the past two decades to promote cleaner sources of electricity. That enormous investment is now having an unexpected impact — consumers are now actually paid to use power on occasion, as was the case over the weekend.

Although Germany clearly leads the pack, other European countries are also producing energy that is occasionally in excess of what they require:

Several countries in Europe have experienced negative power prices, including Belgium, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

But Germany’s forays into negative pricing are the most frequent. At times, Germany is able to export its surplus electricity to its neighbors, helping to balance the market. Still, its experiences of negative prices are often longer, and deeper, than they are in other countries.

In one recent example, power prices spent 31 hours below zero during the last weekend of October. At one point, they dipped as low as minus €83, or minus $98, per megawatt-hour, a wholesale measure.

In other words, anyone who was able to hook up for a large blast of electricity at that time was paid €83 per unit for the trouble.

Of course, giving citizens relief from high power prices–and even occasionally paying them to use power–would come at a cost to the fossil fuel industry that owns Scott Pruitt.

And having a cabinet member who gave a rat’s ass about good policy, the environment or the health and welfare of his country’s citizens would be unthinkable anywhere in the Trump Administration.


  1. This is trademark Trump. Appoint political hacks with no knowledge about or concern for the actual mission of the agency they direct.

  2. And our Indiana Republican Reps in DC LOVE these guys. They will continue to support them and Trump.

  3. Even if we can take back control of Congress this November, it will take decades to repair the damage that has already been done, and is yet to be done, to our environment and to our country as a whole.

  4. This blog is a direct tie-in to the Johnson County Indiana “cancer cluster” I have ranted about before. Two Johnson County mothers of cancer victims; Kari Rhinehard whose 13 year old daughter died in 2016 and Stacie Davidson whose 11 year old stepson underwent successful cancer treatment in 2017, went to Washington, D.C., to speak with lawmakers to stop Trump’s appointment of Michael Dourson to the EPA. This change merely led to the appointment of Scott Pruitt who is probably more dangerous and wields more power than Dourson would have.

    Trichloreothylene is among the chemicals being dumped into the Johnson County Indiana Webb Wellfield; a fact that has been known to public and health officials for years. Due to the number of CHILDHOOD cancer victims in Johnson County Indiana, Erin Brockovich has “added a specific marker for Johnson County” to her list of issues to follow.

    “The EPA has announced the “indefinite postponement” of bans on certain uses of these three toxic chemicals, despite the fact that the Toxic Substances Control Act was the product of a bipartisan consensus.”

    Knowing Trump’s determination to end the EPA; we can be assured this “indefinite postponement” will continue indefinitely. During this “postponement” where will these toxic, cancer causing chemicals be dumped? The dump site in Johnson County has been identified as the Webb Wellfield; we need to track the number of CHILDHOOD “cancer cluster” victims in our own back yard. Pence is in the position to maintain the “indefinite postponement” as he supports Trump’s ignorance regarding the importance of maintaining and strengthening the EPA rather than abolish it to protect the increasing wealth of his friends producing and dumping these life-threatening toxins.

  5. I know folks blame Trump but let’s not ignore Pence who is in bed with Charles and David Koch. Remember his last state of the union address, “Indiana loves coal.”

    We are the only state in the union with four super polluting coal-burning plants. The Kochs love coal and Pence loves the money given by the Koch brothers.

    We are neither a democracy or a representative republic. As an Oligarchy, we do what highest bidders want to be done. The Koch’s invest in over 150 universities who produce junk science and pro-free market research papers. Pruitt is provided with lots of supporting research on climate change.

    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is a joke. It’s the worst in the country. The EPA will look exactly like IDEM.

  6. Todd,

    “We are neither a democracy or a representative republic. As an Oligarchy, we do what highest bidders want to be done.”

    Ditto. If we want CHANGE it can only come from neutralizing the Oligarchy.

  7. No laws need passing in order to destroy our environment and Pruitt is leading the way. Now with Zinke’s help, we’ll all soon see oil derricks from our nice beaches and a visit to a national park will include snapsots of oil wells. They want to wring the earth dry, before conceding that fossil fuels are not sustainable.

  8. To Todd Smekins’ comment on Koch contributions to universities. Jane Mayer’s 2016 book “Dark Money” reports lU, Ohio State, Brown, NYU, Northwestern Law, Rutgers, and many more as recipients of Koch contributions. Ms. Mayer quotes West Virginia Tech economics professor John David who said, “entire academic areas at universities can be bought just like politicians.”

  9. At this point in time, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished without successfully taking on Charles Koch. In the successful fight for 1 man, 1 vote in Dallas, we won by neutralizing the oligarchy, represented, at that time, by the team of George Bush and Robert Strauss.


  10. “And having a cabinet member who gave a rat’s ass about good policy, the environment or the health and welfare of his country’s citizens would be unthinkable anywhere in the Trump Administration.”
    All I found I could comment was! BINGO!!! “Trump, Pence & Lackeys for GUANTANIMO in 2018!”

  11. While I agree that Scott Pruitt will end up being the most harmful member of the current cabinet, his damage will require relatively short-term fixes. Betsy DeVos, on the other hand, will affect an entire generation of our citizens with her ideologically absurd attacks on public education. She is a true menace to our democracy.

    Pruitt will probably get bumped up to AG, and they’ll hire one of his fellow travelers to finish destroying our environment. This momentum won’t change if Trump is impeached and we’re stuck with another president Pinhead in Mike Pence.

    The revolution can’t come to soon.

  12. From above the above blog >> And it is hard to understand why anyone, no matter how corrupt, would protect companies that produce poisonous chemicals.<<

    So what exactly is the motivation for people like Scott Pruitt. Back when I used to read stories about real spies or novels by John le Carré, a point was made that everyone was vulnerable in some manner to corruption. Sex, drugs, money, promotion, prestige, the rock and roll life or just political views could be used as an entry point for betrayal.

    You have to almost have an evangelical belief system in place to deny the effects of the poisons being unleashed. Are people like Pruitt so brain washed, that they actually believe that what is good for the chemical industries profits is good for America???

    What we have with The Trumpet is perhaps the most intellectually vacant president we have ever had. The Trumpet is perfect for the Wall Street Steroid Vampires, their motto must be today's profit is all that matters. The Trumpet has demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt, he is the ultimate con man. Like other con men before him his lies undermine any logic, but to the Republicans in power and The Trumpet's loyal followers he serves various purposes.

    This why we can safely say The Trumpet is Agent Orange!!

  13. The buck doesn’t stop here. Trump doesn’t know where “here” is in his overriding need for praise and unbelievable ignorance about everything domestic or foreign. While Trump tweets about his brilliance and everything good and how he has played a pivotal role in all that has happened everywhere on the planet, the “buck” is in truth distributed to his appointees as he plays CEO and signs whatever is presented to him, picks up his talking points paper, and goes on TV to explain how the bill or rule or reg or other executive action is so good for America, even though he may well not have read their language and wouldn’t understand it if he had. He is not interested in substance; only in “winning.” This pathetic excuse for a president knows nothing and is not interested in learning, being otherwise engaged in juvenile bantering with his tweets and eternal fixation with Hillary hatred. Result? Toxic water, under-regulation of toxic industries, massive giveaways of our resources both present and in the future to the one percent now, privatization of education at public expense, a coming proposal of privatization of our transportation system to Wall Street under the guise of infrastructure repair and renewal etc. etc. etc. He is not governing; that is left to his right wing appointees; the buck can’t stop at all their desks, hence (along with Trump’s psychosis demanding worship) explain the chaos in the West Wing and disgusting flattery by Republicans in Congress. I fear that we have abandoned our world of reason, stimuli and response, cause and effect and concern for consequences for his narcissistic otherworld of flattery, sandbox abuse and a gathering of power in the executive designed, ultimately, as means to authoritarian rule, aka dictatorship. Our democracy (or what is left of it after such right wing assaults) is truly at stake and must be protected at all costs.

  14. Over the years I’ve learned that my most cynical moments occur when I’m thinking about me, Me, ME.

    A quick read of Nicholas Kristof’s NYTimes Op/Ed piece offered a bit of much-needed grounding.

    “We all know that the world is going to hell. Given the rising risk of nuclear war with North Korea, the paralysis in Congress, warfare in Yemen and Syria, atrocities in Myanmar and a president who may be going cuckoo, you might think 2017 was the worst year ever.

    But you’d be wrong. In fact, 2017 was probably the very best year in the long history of humanity.”

  15. I think that the major difference between liberals and authoritarians is pretty simple.

    Liberals believe in the Constitution and its safeguards that protect our “unalienable rights” and it’s charges to the government to “to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

    Authoritarians have been lead instead to believe that the Constitution does not say what it says, the worst form of government is our democracy, the federal government must be, to allow them to enjoy their entitlements, stripped of power and replaced with business with their authoritarian structures and simple make more money regardless of the impact on others. Their rights in fact are that, to make more money regardless of the impact on others.

    This way natures balance will be restored with wealth determining power and the poor disenfranchised and subserviant as the God of wealth always intended.

    This simple message is broadcast hourly out of millions of pockets, purses, and rooms a la “1984” and disguised as news that tells those who fall for it that they are “saved”, they are patriots defending freedom, and they’re non elitist intellectuals because they BELIEVE.

    Trump and his Cabinet were chosen to sing to this choir by whom? Not we, the people. Those who financially benefit from this faux America.

    Their peak accomplishment was the recent wealth redistribution bill. Pruitt and other Cabinet Sectaries are in charge of non monetary strategy to redistribute more wealth over time.

    This is either the end of America or the rebirth of America and the first shots in the Revolution part III (the American Revolution = 1, the Civil War =2) will be fired this November.

  16. Pete,

    From where I sit, Part III of the Revolution occurred in November 2016, and we missed it, we didn’t show up for the Revolution because we were so cocksure that Ms Clinton would win the election because it was “her turn” and all we needed to do was say, “I’m with her.”

  17. We rightfully “Resist”— walking in the streets with signs, calling our representatives every day, following the rules of lawful, peaceful (and sometimes not so peaceful) protest, while Rome burns. How can we wait until November to unseat these monsters? We all are waiting for Mueller to make his move with no idea of how long it will take him to prove the illegitimacy of this administration, while Trump and the Congress are doing everything in their power to weaken his and the FBI’s authority. Congress refuses to acknowledge Trump’s complete lack of qualifications for the office of POTUS, and will make no move to impeach. The damage being done everyday is incalculable. If, in fact, our resistance is eventually successful, it will take decades to right the ship. Our children and grandchildren are being left an unbearable burden. Global warming continues apace while the United States government does everything in its power to exacerbate the problem. And, Trump sits in the Oval Office with his finger on the “Bigger” button, taunting another child-in-charge. I feel quite desperate.

  18. Let us all be the harbingers of things to come that will be dedicated to not repeating the colossal mistakes that involve listening to Republicans or so-called conservatives about anything, anytime. These people are our version of the National Socialists of 1930’s Germany. The Nazis also cozied up to industry, because they needed them for their war machine and conquests. At least Hitler wasn’t interested in maximizing financial gain no matter what. He merely wanted to control western civilization.

    We would never allow something like that to happen, would we?

  19. “We would never allow something like that to happen, would we?”

    Vernon, it’s already happened. Where were you and what were you doing before the election in November 2016?

  20. A quick point of clarification: are not making/getting paid for energy, even when the wholesale market price is negative. Because of the various taxes/fees/etc involved in utilities that never go away (things like base rate, which we have too) the German’s are still paying their utility company even on days when energy is below zero.

    They’re just getting time periods where some (but not all) of their trackers/base rate/etc are being defrayed for a few hours.

    Still a good thing. But, not quite as good as it sounds.

  21. I agree that Scott Pruitt is the most destructive of Trumps cabinet. Pruitt whose home is in Tulsa, Oklahoma, has been on the wrong side of the most toxic site in the USA, Picher and Tar Creek, Oklahoma. This toxic site has caused thousands of people to suffer lifetimes of neurological impairments, and thousands more to die of cancer. I don’t agree with you about supply-demand electricity. Pulsed, man-made wireless microwave radiation from supply-demand metering is just another form of pollution. Cell phone towers and smart meters are harmful and should not be forced on the population. Top scientists and cancer specialists from around the world agree on that. The electric companies, telecommunications industries, and the FCC and people who’s livelihoods depend on wireless technology will tell you it’s harmless, and no more harmful than the natural non-ionizing radiation. Pulsed, man-made radiation is nothing like natural radiation.

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