Larry Beinhart's Body Politic: The Man Who Loves Chicken Sh*t | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
click to enlarge Larry Beinhart's Body Politic: The Man Who Loves Chicken Sh*t
Gillian Farrell

Scott Pruitt is the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

He's the most perfect choice imaginable to symbolize the Republican Party's relationship to the environment.

Pruitt's last job was attorney general for Oklahoma.

His predecessor, Drew Edmondson, had sued 14 poultry companies in Arkansas and Oklahoma for dumping their waste into the Illinois River (which, in spite of its name, flows through Arkansas and Oklahoma). Environmental laws in Arkansas are weaker than Oklahoma. Some of the companies are over the state border, some of them operate in both states. The case went to court in 2005 and lasted until 2009.

When Pruitt took office, in January 2011, the judge still had not ruled. He'd been scratching his head and ruminating for two and a half years. That's fascinating in and of itself, but it's a black box because judges don't have to explain themselves and this one hasn't. Edmondson thought his successor should have kept pushing for a ruling. Instead, Pruitt came up with a deal with Arkansas to do a three-year study to determine the "best science" that should be applied. It took the problem out of the court, then reestablished the status quo. A complete victory for chicken sh*t.

The case goes to the very heart of what environmental regulations are about. Should your neighbor be allowed to dump his sh*t in your yard?

As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times.

He challenged the Cross State Air Pollution Rule. It's exactly what it sounds like. Power companies in states with weak regulations put a lot of toxic sh*t in the air. The air doesn't stay in their state. It blows into other states, including ours.

He challenged the rule placing limits on mercury pollution. Remember the Mad Hatter? Mercury was once used in making hats. It's a neurotoxin. Hat makers went mad. Nowadays it mostly affects fish and birds. Also pregnant women and children. Coal-fired power plants are the main cause of mercury pollution. Pruitt sued the EPA over this rule twice.

He challenged the EPA rule on ozone. There's good ozone, which is high up, and shields us from ultraviolet rays. It can be destroyed by manmade chemicals. The word is also used in a way that's roughly synonymous with smog, in which low-lying air filled with pollutants reacts with sunlight to become even more toxic. Breathing it is like putting sh*t in your lungs.

He challenged the EPA rules limiting pollution during power plant startups and shutdowns, the carbon pollution standards for new power plants, and the clean air standards for oil and gas drilling and production sites.

The Clean Power Plan is aimed at slowing climate change. Pruitt does not believe in climate change. He sued to block the plan four times. He even sued to overturn the science behind it, the EPA's finding that greenhouse gas pollution endangers the environment and health.

Getting back to the chicken sh*t, Pruitt sued the EPA over the Clean Water Rule.

There is no reason to doubt Pruitt's sincerity. Today's Republicans universally express hate for the EPA. Ted Cruz called it "unbelievably abusive," accusing it, of course, of "killing jobs." Mitch McConnell said his top priority is to "get the EPA reined in." Jeb Bush, who's looked at as the closest thing to a live, semisane, semimoderate, establishment- type Republican, took the positions that"the Clean Power Plan, we ought to repeal that," and "the Waters of the United States Act...repeal that." Rand Paul wrote, "Since EPA regulations have expanded, unemployment in America has increased by 33 percent," clearly implying a cause and effect, and he thinks it "infringes upon our basic constitutional rights." Mike Huckabee expressed the fear that "the Baptist won't be able to immerse"—have a full-body dunk—for his baptism, "because the EPA will determine that's using too much water." Mitt Romney said "regulations function as a hidden tax," and the worst regulator is "the EPA... [which] drives up costs, hinders investments, and destroys jobs."

While there is no reason to doubt that Pruitt is a true believer, it is reasonable to note that he has received money from Murray Energy, Peabody Energy, the Southern Power Company, the National Mining Association, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, Oklahoma Gas and Electric, corporate members of the American Petroleum Institute, Alpha Natural Resources, the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and the Tri-state Generation and Transmission Association, all of whom are coparties to one or more of the lawsuits filed by Pruitt, as Oklahoma's attorney general, against the EPA.

This is not about the guy in the White House who chose him. This is about the Republican Party. Somehow, they find it completely outrageous that a regulation would get in the way of a money-making corporation dumping their sh*t on other people's land, in other people's water, or in the air that we breath.

Swap out this Republican president for another, you'll get the same thing. Jeb Bush just wrote that he "cannot think of a person more suited to run the Environmental Protection Agency than Pruitt," the man who loves chicken sh*t so much that he'll fight and connive so that you can have it in your water.

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