New Trump EPA administrator Scott Pruitt had two choices after hurricanes Harvey and Irma. He could rise to the challenges of his office, or he could tool around the country pooh-poohing people who asked about climate change, giving friendly interviews to conspiracy sites like Breitbart and issuing furious ad hominem attacks on journalists who questioned the EPA’s seemingly less-than-robust response to the chemical explosions and spills accompanying the storms.
He, of course, chose the latter. And mind you, I suspect most of us were prepared for how beholden to polluting industries Scott Pruitt would be, because that is precisely how he auditioned for his current position; what’s more surprising is just how petulant the man would be. He appears to be running the entire department as an exercise in self-gratification and extended bouts of pouting.
“I’ve got to say this to you: what is it about the past administration?” Pruitt said. “Everyone looks at the Obama administration as being the environmental savior. Really? He was the environmental savior? He’s the gold standard, right? Well, he left us with more Superfund sites than when he came in. He had Gold King [the 2015 mine wastewater spill] and Flint, Michigan [drinking water crisis]. He tried to regulate CO2 twice and flunked twice. Struck out. So what’s so great about that record? I don’t know.” […]
“Maybe Christine Todd Whitman likes the Obama administration,” Pruitt said. “Go ask her, I don’t know. [Obama] is the gold standard, right?”
That last bit is a response to George W. Bush EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman penning a New York Times op-ed blasting Pruitt for how he’s running the department and for his asinine denials of climate science. “Maybe Christine Todd Whitman likes the Obama administration” is the response of a child.
So it’s clear that Scott Pruitt will not be mustering some hidden reserves of competence during his tenure. It will be interesting to see, however, how long he can survive on a diet of friendly far-right media interviews and angry press releases. It doesn’t seem a sustainable position, for an (ahem) actual freaking cabinet member. It’s the sort of behavior that generally ends with someone admitting to a pill addition and bowing out to spend more time licking the tar off old railroad ties.