·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

EPA Head Scott Pruitt Is No Conservative

— February 27, 2018

Lavish with our money, foolish with our resources, endangering our health, gambling with our future, leading us into chaos: Scott Pruitt is no conservative.

Let’s leave aside the modern political meaning of “Conservative” for a moment and consider what the lowercase-c version of that word meant not so long ago. As “America’s leading and most-trusted provider of language information since 1828,” Merriam-Webster has a few thoughts on the matter. According to them, conservative means “tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions, traditional.” Or, perhaps, “marked by moderation or caution.” There’s a lot to be said for weighing options, seeing how things have been done successfully in the past, and carrying those proven strategies into a prosperous future. However, if we measure the current head of the EPA by this yardstick, we’ll find that Scott Pruitt is no conservative.

If there’s one way to measure conservatism lately, it’s the way someone goes through money. You’d expect someone who prides himself on being conservative to save where he can, to spend frugally when he must, and above all, to receive a good value in return. Scott Pruitt, however, has been throwing cash around like a stereotypical – dare I say it? – liberal.

In his first year at the EPA, Pruitt spent at least two million dollars on ’round-the-clock security for himself. Another $25,000 went into constructing a soundproof booth inside his office so he could make phone calls in secret. And then there are the flights. Only the best for Scott: between March and May alone, he plunked down $12,000 for air travel around the country, always with a stopover in Tulsa. Add $58,000 for specially chartered flights and military planes last summer, and $40,000 for one trip to Morocco. Add his security escort – first class, of course – for another $200,000. How many hours did you work to pay for that, taxpayer? At least Obama’s EPA administrator flew coach.

When even Trey Gowdy, the head of the House oversight committee, starts questioning his fellow Republican’s $100,000 travel expenditures, we may conclude that Scott Pruitt is no conservative.

Scott Pruitt; image by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes made.
Scott Pruitt; image by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes made.

Okay, he’s lavish with other people’s money, but maybe it’s supporting his role as a strong guardian of our natural resources, right? Not so fast. Instead, he’s all-in for the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda. Under Pruitt, the EPA’s strategy seems to be giving away the farm to any private-sector business that comes a-lobbying with their hands out. Many Republicans cite regulatory capture, when agencies which are supposed to be watchdogs for the public interest instead act in ways that shelter and benefit the industries they’re supposed to regulate, as a reason not to trust government, but you wouldn’t know it by the way Pruitt’s EPA has rolled over for industry belly rubs. If conservatives are supposed to be wise and protective stewards, Scott Pruitt is no conservative.

At least he’s basing his actions on careful consideration of the best science, eh? Ummm, no. This is the guy who said, in his out-loud voice, that a warmer atmosphere might be a good thing for people. He also suggested that “blue vs. red” climate debates are a reasonable way for the public to come to solid conclusions about the existential threat of our time, and somehow might not end up looking like a Facebook train wreck. Further, he seems willing to bet everything on the gamble that God wants us to blow through our remaining fossil fuels (and make our cities look like they did before we started caring about clean air). If conservatism is about moderation and caution, then Scott Pruitt is no conservative.

Is he at least ethical? You know, not lying about using personal email addresses for government business, like everyone knows “Crooked Hillary” did? Well, if we “lock her up,” we’d have to lock him up too, according to allegations that the Oklahoma Bar Association began investigating last year.

By nearly every measure, Scott Pruitt is no conservative, save for his political-tribal identity. He’s not maintaining and expanding upon the policies that gave us clean water and air, or protecting us from environmental illnesses and costs. He’s not listening to our best minds when steering the EPA. Our money is slipping though his fingers, so he can fly in style and speak in secret. Our treasures are not safe in his hands. Nowadays, liberals make better conservatives than Scott Pruitt could ever hope to be.

Related: Cheaper for Companies, but Bad for You


Making America Toxic Again
House Republican oversight chair seeks EPA chief’s travel details
Obama EPA chief: Trump regulation rollbacks won’t hold up legally
EPA’s Scott Pruitt asks whether global warming ‘necessarily is a bad thing’
For the EPA, ‘reform’ means giving industry what it wants
Tell Me What Is ‘Conservative’ About This
Oklahoma Bar Association Probing Ethics Complaint Against Scott Pruitt
What Pittsburgh Looked Like When It Decided It Had a Pollution Problem

Join the conversation!