For breaching public trust, Pruitt must go

Published 11:55 am Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In our 82 year history, the National Wildlife Federation has only twice called for the resignation of a cabinet official.

Today, the Federation calls upon President Donald Trump to dismiss Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

The last time the Federation called for such an action was 35 years ago, when we requested that President Ronald Reagan remove James Watt as the Secretary of the Interior and Anne Gorsuch as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. As a bipartisan, science-based, and collaborative organization that represents more than six million hunters, anglers, birders, campers, and gardeners, including millions of Republicans and millions of Democrats, this is not a decision that we come to lightly.

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Since President Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970, we have had plenty of policy disagreements with political appointees of both parties. We have worked with Republicans and Democrats to achieve great victories for America’s wildlife and natural resources and we’ve also lost our share of battles.

Over the past year, we have disagreed with Mr. Pruitt on numerous policy items: the Clean Water Rule, the Clean Power Plan, clean air standards, methane rules, toxic chemical standards, ethanol mandates, and most recently the fuel economy standards. We have opposed the silencing of scientists and the public from decision-making processes and advocated for greater transparency. We have proudly stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the hard working women and men at the Agency to defend against draconian budget cuts proposed by the administration.

And while we may not like many of Mr. Pruitt’s policy decisions, we also understand that he was appointed to enact the administration’s policy. That is not why we believe it is time for his removal.

Mr. Pruitt’s repeated ethical lapses in judgment undermine the credibility of the EPA and have rendered him unfit to serve. His displays of poor financial judgment are well-documented: lavish raises for political appointees, unprecedented security requirements, first-class flights, security phone booth, hiring individuals without relevant experience, etc.

But it is the pay-to-play culture with long-time lobbyist donors that most egregiously violates the public’s trust. The astounding act of accepting subsidized housing from lobbyists who have matters pending before our Environmental Protection Agency is unacceptable. Making an international trip at significant taxpayer expense to lobby a foreign government for policy changes that would only benefit one private industry is a breach of his public duty. Granting campaign donors undue access, influence, and favors represents the very worst of the swamp against which the President campaigned.

The EPA’s mission is to protect human health and the environment. Mr. Pruitt’s financial entanglements with lobbyists and his repeated indiscretions have disqualified him from being able to fulfill the Agency’s mission. The American people simply cannot have confidence that he will act in the best interest of the nation.

We respectfully request that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resign or be removed from office.

Collin O’Mara is the president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.