Energy & Environment

Greens launch campaign to get Pruitt fired

Greg Nash

A coalition of environmental groups is teaming up for a multi-pronged campaign to try to get Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt fired or to resign.

The groups, including the Sierra Club, Green For All and Center for American Progress Action, are dubbing its campaign “Boot Pruitt.”

Its components, launching Wednesday, include commercials on cable shows targeted directly at President Trump, digital advertisements targeted on users in Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma, web-based petitions, grass-roots advocacy and a dedicated website,


Greens have enthusiastically opposed Pruitt and his policies since Trump announced in December 2016 his intent to nominate him.

But the “Boot Pruitt” campaign represents a new level of coordination and effort that the groups say is a real attempt to get him out of office.

“Even before he took office, we knew that Scott Pruitt was a dangerous appointee. And ever since he was confirmed, he’s proven to be worse than we feared,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “From silencing the voice of scientists to attempting to undermine regulations to protect our air and water to not enforcing regulations like minimizing sulphur dioxide pollution, supporting a pullout of Paris, Pruitt has put forward a reckless agenda that has put our air and our water and our health at risk.”

The Sierra Club’s contribution to the campaign includes commercials on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” said to be two of Trump’s favorite shows. The group is also sponsoring geographically targeted ads in Oklahoma.

“Scott Pruitt has come in and he has attacked health protections from things like the Clean Power Plan and clean water protection and even things like clean car standards. Most of those decisions have a big impact on the young people that we work with daily in our campaign,” said Adrienne Cooper, who runs the Defend Our Future campaign for the Environmental Defense Fund.

Defend Our Future is spending six figures on the anti-Pruitt campaign, supporting the “Boot Pruitt” website and running digital ads for it as well.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox dismissed the campaign.

“This is old news as environmental groups have been recycling these baseless attacks since the day Scott Pruitt was nominated,” he said, pointing to the Sierra Club’s opposition to Pruitt as soon as he was mentioned as Trump’s nominee. “Administrator Pruitt is proud to advance President Trump’s agenda on regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship.”

The main focus of the campaign is highlighting Pruitt’s agenda, which greens see as reckless and dangerous.

Since taking office last year, Pruitt has worked to roll back regulations on climate change, air pollution, water pollution, car efficiency, chemical plant safety and more. In the meantime, he’s reduced the EPA’s staffing to levels not seen since former President Reagan.

Pruitt has consistently defended the efforts as protective of regulatory certainty, rule of law and the environment.

“With Reagan-era levels, we’re improving environmental outcomes with respect to Superfund sites and other key environmental objectives, but also the regulatory reform actions we’ve taken over the last year. We’ve had 22 of those and had a $1 billion savings to the economy,” he told conservative talk-show host Lars Larson last week.

The greens’ campaign is also focused on the spending-related scandals Pruitt has been involved in.

He has been under fire recently for spending more than $100,000 in his first year on first-class travel. He’s also used taxpayer funds for trips such as one to Morocco to promote natural gas exports and to his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., which he has said was for official business.

Meanwhile, he spent more than $40,000 to install a soundproof privacy booth in his office.

“His job is literally to protect the environment, and he’s failing at that miserably. He’s spending all this money on luxury travel, on secret phone booths and a number of other things that are the antithesis of making sure he’s focusing on what his job needs to be, which is protecting the people of the United States,” said Vien Truong, head of Green for All, an environmental advocacy group focused on minority and low-income populations.

The green groups say their goal of kicking Pruitt out is reasonable and the campaign is serious. Following high-profile Trump administration departures like former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, they think Trump is receptive to the idea of firing Pruitt.

“Our goal is to have him no longer be administrator of the EPA as quickly as possible,” said Brune. “We think that the public is on our side, and we believe that if the president believes and wants to honor his commitment to clean air and clean water that he’ll push Pruitt out as quickly as possible.”

By all appearances, Trump is pleased with Pruitt’s work, often speaking favorably about the deregulatory actions he has undertaken.
“I get so much thanks. The country knows what I’m doing,” Trump said of his environmental agenda last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “We couldn’t build. We couldn’t farm. If you had a puddle on your land, they called it a lake for the purposes of environmentals.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier in February that she had “no reason to believe” Trump had lost confidence in Pruitt amid the controversy over his first-class travel costs.

The other groups involved at the launch of the effort are the Hip Hop Caucus, Friends of the Earth, Green Latinos, the League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Updated at 11:06 a.m. 
Tags Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency Rex Tillerson Scott Pruitt Tom Price
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