Washington, DC — Scott Pruitt’s proposed five-year plan for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is so bad that it is laugh-out-loud funny, according to comments filed today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The group is asking Pruitt to withdraw the plan and come back with something that passes the straight-face test.
The public comment period on Pruitt’s Draft FY 2018-2022 Strategic Plan for EPA ends today. PEER points out that:
- Its lofty goals “to provide Americans with clean air, land, and water” are undercut by Pruitt pursuing more than 50 separate eco-rollbacks or freezes at last count;
- The plan promises a greater role for states and tribes but admits they lack resources, even as Pruitt proposes to further cut current aid to them; and
- Pruitt vows greater transparency and reliance on science when virtually every one of his actions -from installing a surveillance proof phone booth in his office to scrubbing discussion of climate change from agency webpages and publications – exhibits the exact opposite.
“Pruitt’s plan would be a good joke if it did not come at the expense of public health and planetary well-being,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “This plan is proof that quality control, consistency, and fact-based analysis have ceased to hold sway within the Office of the Administrator.”
PEER also faults Pruitt for speaking out of both sides of his mouth. On one hand the plan states that “Recent challenges in Flint, Michigan and elsewhere have highlighted the need to strengthen EPA’s implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.” On the other hand, Pruitt proposes “Cooperative Federalism” to cede more autonomy to state programs – like Michigan’s.
Further, Pruitt’s plan for states to develop a patchwork of differing environmental laws will only increase confusion among the regulated community, decrease predictability, and cause severe public health and environmental damage – all of which are contrary to his stated main goals.
EPA and other agencies are required to adopt strategic plans by the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010. Those plans, however, are supposed to specify how goals and objectives will be achieved, including “a description of the operational processes, skills and technology, and the human, capital, information, and other resources required to achieve those goals and objectives.”
“By any measure, Pruitt’s strategic plan fails to meet statutory requirements but failing to meet statutory requirements is emerging as his signature trait,” added Ruch. “Magical thinking is not a plan but, then again, expectations both inside and outside EPA are declining daily.”