Green groups and Trump critics derided recent comments by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt on Wednesday, in which he advocated for a new understanding of environmentalism—one that focuses on getting the most use possible out of natural resources rather than protecting the earth from pollution and exploitation.
“We have been blessed, as a country, with tremendous natural resources,” said Pruitt last month at an event hosted by the Federalist Society, as if to suggest that the nation’s borders are one of the planet’s naturally occurring features. “I believe that we have an obligation to feed the world and power the world, with a sensitivity, as far as environmental stewardship, for future generations.”
Pruitt has fought against environmental protection advocates’ efforts to end the practices of fracking, coal mining, and other methods of extracting natural resources from the earth in the interest of energy creation, arguing in a soon-to-be-released interview with the National Review many have fought for these restrictions “even though people may starve, may freeze, though developing countries may never develop their economies.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a longtime foe of green groups who has disputed the view of 97 percent of peer-reviewed scientists who say humans have fueled climate change, agreed with Pruitt’s assessment, telling The Hill: “He’s right on target, and he’s being realistic. There’s no way we can run this machine called America without fossil fuels.”
In fact, the U.S. is home to a burgeoning solar power industry that’s rapidly growing even in pro-Trump areas in the Midwest and South, employing more Americans than the oil, gas, and coal industries combined.
Green groups scoffed at the former Oklahoma Attorney General’s claim that protecting the environment causes suffering for disadvantaged populations. Many developing countries have been found to be especially vulnerable to climate change, which has been exacerbated by carbon emissions from the fossil fuel industry that Pruitt argues should be given free rein to mine in the name of “environmental stewardship.”
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told The Hill that Pruitt’s words left him worried for the country’s future but struggling to take the EPA administrator seriously.
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“I find myself wondering whether Scott Pruitt actually believes this stuff, or if he’s a careful student of George Orwell. If he repeats something enough, again and again and again, at least some portion of the public will begin to believe it,” said Brune.
Other critics on social media also objected to Pruitt’s attempt to redefine environmentalism.
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