KFTC Blog

Nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. EPA threatens our health and climate

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on January 17, 2017

Among the many fossil-fueled extremists and climate deniers nominated by president-elect Donald Trump to lead key federal agencies, Scott Pruitt stands out as an extreme choice.

 Pruitt, who is originally from Danville, Kentucky, is Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He currently serves as Oklahoma Attorney General where he has focused his political career advancing the interests of industrial agriculture and the fossil fuel industry. Along the way he has benefitted handsomely from their direct political contributions and the support of their political action committees.

The U.S. EPA is responsible for protecting the land, water, air and climate on which all lives depend. Yet the man Trump has nominated to lead this essential and complex public service denies the science of climate change. He has sued the EPA 14 times in recent years, including 8 cases that are still active. And he has repeatedly used his political position to do the bidding of powerful polluters.

For example, Pruitt intervened to weaken a legal settlement against corporate chicken farms. He was exposed in 2014 by the New York Times for sending letters on official government stationary that were actually written by energy industry lobbyists, urging federal regulators to ease up on rules to reduce methane emissions and other harmful pollutants. He led an association of Republican Attorneys General which coordinated lawsuits against the EPA while raking in $4.2 million between 2013 and 2016 from fossil-fuel related companies such as Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Murray Energy and Southern Company. (Fossil fuel interests also donated an additional $16 million directly to the election campaigns of individual Republican Attorneys General.)

In 2013-2014, Pruitt’s re-election campaign for Attorney General of Oklahoma was co-chaired by Harold Hamm, the CEO of Continental Energy, an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company. Hamm is one of the key players in the development fracking and horizontal drilling methods used to open up the Bakken shale oil field in North Dakota and parts of Montana. He is now Trump’s key advisor on energy issues.

Pruitt’s confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate begins on January 18 before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. That committee is chaired by Sen. James Inhofe, who hails from Pruitt’s state of Oklahoma and is among the most extreme climate change deniers and EPA opponents in the U.S. Senate. 

To reject Pruitt’s nomination, at least four Republican Senators will need to vote against him since one Democratic Senator (Joe Manchin of West Virginia) has already expressed his support for the nominee. That may be a steep hurdle for Pruitt’s opponents, considering the fact that only three Republican Senators voted in 2015 for a resolution affirming that human activity contributes significantly to climate change. (Those voting yes on that measure were Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.)

 

Here are numbers you can use to express your views on this nomination, and others:

 * Sen Mitch McConnell: 502-582-6304

* Sen Rand Paul: 270-782-8303

 

During the confirmation hearing, the case against Scott Pruitt’s nomination is likely to focus on several core issues:

  • He is a key architect of the legal challenge by 28 states and many fossil fuel companies and utilities to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. And he has repeatedly denied the scientific consensus on climate change. The day after the election, he declared in an interview that the Trump administration would roll back EPA rules like the Clean Power Plan. He boasted, “There’ll have to be rules proposed by the EPA to withdraw those, but that will happen. And there will be notice and comments that will be taken. And then those rules will ultimately be withdrawn.”
  • He directly and indirectly benefits from hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed by fossil fuel interests in recent years. The energy industry gave $114,000 to Pruitt’s election campaign in 2014. They’ve given hundreds of thousands more to two political action committees set up in 2015 to advance Pruitt’s political future and run by people involved with his campaign. A third dark-money PAC was recently established to support his EPA nomination. All of those contributions are on top of millions given by energy companies to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which Pruitt led, and to the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a nonprofit that bankrolls legal challenges to federal regulations brought by Republican Attorneys General.
 

The coming week will see a flurry of additional confirmation hearings on many controversial picks, including the appointment of Wilbur Ross as Commerce Secretary. Ross is the CEO of ICG, one of the largest strip-mining companies operating in eastern Kentucky. He was at the helm of that company in 2005 when 12 miners died in the 2005 Sago Mine Disaster in West Virginia. Former KFTC chairperson Teri Blanton is quoted in this recent story about ICG's track record in Kentucky.

A rundown of the hearings taking place this week can be found here.

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Scott County members attend local MLK Day events

Posted by: Joe Gallenstein on January 17, 2017

Members of the Scott County chapter participate in yearly events hosted by the local Georgetown-Scott County NAACP unit to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision and legacy. This included a sold-out breakfast event featuring Wilbur Hackett, a former UK player who was one of the first African American football players at the University of Kentucky.

Members also attended a meet and greet with Dr. Derek King, nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the Ed Davis Center before the 2017 Martin Luther King, Jr. march in Georgetown. Dr. King was also the featured speaker at the annual program following the march.

The march itself had more than 220 participants, with several groups well represented. Many in attendance were talking about Dr. King’s vision not just of racial equality, but an intersectional vision of social justice that did not leave anyone behind.

Mapping environmental (in)justice in Kentucky

Posted by: Lisa Abbott on December 8, 2016

As KFTC members work to design a new, clean energy system for our state, we want principles of environmental justice and health equity to be at the front and center of our process and plan. Developing an Environmental Justice analysis is one important step we are taking to better understand which communities in our state are most affected by pollution, poor health, economic inequality and racial injustice.

Turn your anger into action: Support KFTC during our fall campaign

Posted by: Tanya Torp on November 28, 2016

I was out of town on election day. After voting by absentee ballot, I went on a much needed vacation with my family. I didn’t have internet access on the trip, and when I turned on my cell phone the day after the election, it started pinging with message after message from friends back home.

Folks were asking, “What can I do?” – trying to turn their feelings of powerlessness into hope.

The first thing I thought of was KFTC. I wanted to share KFTC’s vision statement with everyone who was asking that question. And I wanted to give my friends a way to do something, to channel everything they were feeling into action.

Remembrance of Patty Wallace's remarkable life

Posted by: KFTC staff on November 24, 2016

Patty Wallace, a long-time KFTC leader, former KFTC chairperson and an inspiration to many, passed away on November 20.

“Patty was a real heroine to those of us in KFTC,” reflected John and Jean Rosenberg. “Beyond that, she was a lovely caring person. We will miss Patty a lot. When strong leaders are being counted, Patty will always be remembered.”

“Patty was a wonderful person and an inspiration to many,” remembered Henry Riekert, the KFTC chairperson 1994-95.

Shelby County KFTC tables at Light Up Shelbyville

Posted by: Lisa Aug on November 15, 2016

Shelby KFTC (Lisa Aug, center) with allies at Light up Shelbyville Saturday. By sharing our space with Shelbyville area NAACP (President Janice Harris left) and the new Shelbyville Simpsonville human rights commission (vice chair Andrea Cottrell, right), we drew more people and were able to spread the word about all three organizations. Stronger together! Photo by Ariane King.

Reflections on the election of 2016

Posted by: KFTC on November 10, 2016

We are Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, a community of people inspired by a vision, building New Power and a better future, for all of us. 

By now, you've likely seen lots of reflections, commentaries and postmortems on the election of 2016. We hope you have the stamina for one more.

Something big – titanic perhaps – happened on Tuesday. Our world has changed, as well as our pathways to change. The ultimate consequences of this election are uncertain, unknowable even. But the impacts are being felt across the country, across our Commonwealth, in our communities, schools and homes.

While many surrounding us are celebrating the new reality, most of KFTC woke on Wednesday possessed by grief, anger, dread about the future, fear about tomorrow, newly separated from at least some of our neighbors, perhaps even from family. We should take note that the feeling of vulnerability, of isolation that some of us may be experiencing for the first time, is not new at all for many of us. 

The seemingly endless campaign of 2016 was, for most of the country, demoralizing, embarrassing, repulsive. It was a campaign dominated by cynical attacks and baseless blame, fueled by exploiting fear. The damage inflicted by such tactics on our people and our democracy is profound. We must overcome their impact and reject their continuation.

We encourage each of us to take the time to take care of ourselves, to linger but not loiter with our grief. We need to support each other, and stand in solidarity with those most at risk.  

We encourage each of us to listen – to our heart, to our family, our community, one another – so that we may understand our common anxieties and our shared aspirations.

Then we step forward, together, with courage and conviction, with determination and integrity.  Some things changed on election day; more things did not. Our resolve, our core values, our vision for a better Kentucky, our commitment to action for justice, are as certain, as reassuring, as ever.  

We are Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, and together, we are our best hope for change.

Reducing harm in our communities

The Letcher County Chapter meeting
Posted by: Sara Estep on October 28, 2016

During the Letcher County chapter's October meeting, members wrote letters to the fiscal court of Letcher County.

Members of the Letcher County chapter are working to bring a clean needle exchange to Letcher County and other counties in eastern Kentucky.

The Story of the Roanoke Electric Co-op

Posted by: KFTC Staff on October 26, 2016

Curtis Wynn is the CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative in North Carolina. He was the keynote speaker at KFTC's Empower Kentucky Summit on October 1, 2016 in Louisville. He described ways his co-op is leading the nation with an innovative approach to energy efficiency and building on a model developed by rural co-ops in Kentucky. Watch this video of Curtis describing his work to empower the members of his co-op.

3rd Annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy

Posted by: Bryan Burns on October 25, 2016

This past September saw the of the 3rd Annual Smoketown GetDown for Democracy block party and the community spirit was out in full force.

Pride comes to Georgetown!

Posted by: Clare White on October 18, 2016

Pride has come to the city of Georgetown. On October 8, Georgetown Fairness held Georgetown's first Pride Festival.

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