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"Any policy maker who would base national policy on denial of climate science because there is 'debate' would be called dangerously irresponsible." (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

'Like An Arsonist Fighting Fires': Outrage Grows Over Trump's EPA Pick

Rep. Raúl Grijalva introduces earthquake prevention bill to call attention to fracking crisis in Pruitt's home state of Oklahoma

Nadia Prupis

Outrage continues to grow over Scott Pruitt, the nominee to head up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President-elect Donald Trump, particularly over his climate change denial and ties to the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt has drawn criticism for his belief that human-caused climate change is unproven, among other critical environmental issues.

"If a person jumped off a building because he said gravitation is only a theory, one would say he is delusional," Rush Holt, the executive director of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), said Wednesday. "So too, any policy maker who would base national policy on denial of climate science because there is 'debate' would be called dangerously irresponsible."

Or as Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, phrased it: "Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires."

As Common Dreams previously reported, Pruitt used his position as Oklahoma Attorney General to sue the EPA in an attempt to block measures to reduce pollution and protect waterways.

In response to Pruitt's appointment, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, on Thursday introduced the Preventing Preventable Earthquakes Act, referencing two major environmental issues associated with the EPA nominee—hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and Oklahoma's fracking-related earthquake crisis.

The bill would require states and the EPA to enforce earthquake-prevention provisions and work toward "zero induced seismicity."

Oklahoma is the de facto earthquake capital of the country, having recently experienced an uptick in seismic activity which scientists have linked to fracking and wastewater disposal. The latest big tremor, a magnitude-5.0 event in November, was the 19th earthquake in the state that week.

"The first step to cleaning up Pruitt's earthquake disaster is to stop it from getting worse," said Benjamin Schreiber, climate and energy director at Friends of the Earth, in response to Grijalva's bill. "It is clear that Donald Trump is willing to put Americans at risk in order to pump industry profits out of our natural resources."

Schreiber described the effect of fracking as "destructive and short-sighted."

Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), said Wednesday, "Pruitt's statements and actions are in direct conflict with the job to which he has been nominated. [The EPA] defends environmental justice and fights the risk of catastrophic climate change. Under Pruitt's leadership, all of these policies will suffer and so will the Americans who rely on them."

Meanwhile, Democrats and greens on Capitol Hill are gearing up to fight Pruitt's nomination, which Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, told The Hill was a "worst-case scenario when it comes to clean air and clean water."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another EPW member, also vowed to "vigorously" oppose Pruitt.

"At a time when climate change is the great environmental threat to the entire planet, it is sad and dangerous that Mr. Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA," he said.

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