In his last day on the job as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday, Scott Pruitt confirmed that he shouldn’t have been within a million miles of the agency tasked with keeping the environment we all live in safe.
President Donald Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation on Thursday, praising the “outstanding job” of perhaps the second most corrupt official in the administration—which says a lot, considering the competition. But Pruitt had one final order of business to tend to, the result of which will most certainly contribute to more asthma and lung cancer cases.
According to The New York Times:
In the final hours of Scott Pruitt’s tenure as administrator, the Environmental Protection Agency moved on Friday to effectively grant a loophole that will allow a major increase in the manufacturing of a diesel freight truck that produces as much as 55 times the air pollution as trucks that have modern emissions controls.
The decision to benefit the makers of super polluting freight trucks followed what the newspaper described as “intense lobbying” by manufacturers, and the two people to blame are Pruitt and new acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler.
According to the report, the EPA will not enforce an annual cap on so-called “glider” trucks that had been in place since January, and manufacturers will be allowed to return to previous production rates—about 10,000 trucks per year, according to 2015 figures. The cap had been at 300 gliders per manufacturer.
An EPA spokeswoman told the Times:
“The Agency is exercising its enforcement discretion in 2018 and 2019,” Molly Block, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement late Friday, meaning that it is notifying glider manufacturers that even though the limit legally remains in place, the companies can effectively ignore it.
The agency, she said, is also considering formally delaying the 300-unit cap until December 2019 — by which point it hopes to have permanently repealed the cap.
Understandably, advocates for stronger environmental protections are furious, particularly since reducing air pollution caused by diesel trucks has had bipartisan support for decades, the newspaper noted.
“Pruitt and Wheeler are creating a loophole for super polluting freight trucks that will fill our children’s lungs with toxic diesel pollution, ignoring public comments from moms and leading businesses across the country,” Environmental Defense Fund general counsel Vickie Patton told the Times.
While this latest development is troubling, it isn’t particularly surprising given Pruitt’s open-door policy at the EPA for lobbyists representing industries the agency is supposed to be regulating. Last week, emails obtained from a public records lawsuit demonstrated just how close Pruitt and his cronies at the EPA are to industry lobbyists. When “lobbyists ask top EPA officials to jump, the answer is often ‘how high,’” the Campaign Legal Center’s Brendan Fischer told The Washington Post.