Target: Scott Pruitt, Nominee for EPA Administrator
Goal: Prioritize public health and safety over corporate interests in enforcement of wastewater disposal regulations.
When Scott Pruitt assumes the title of Administrator for the Environment Protection Agency he will bring a controversial record with regards to environmental regulation enforcement. Over a six-year tenure as Attorney General of Oklahoma, he filed 14 lawsuits against the EPA seeking to weaken regulations contained under the Clean Air, Clean Water Act, and Clean Power Plan. These actions were initiated in almost all cases in direct partnership with legal representatives of major energy companies, who also contributed heavily to his campaign. He was also silent in response to the earthquake crisis in Oklahoma, which saw an increase in quakes of at least 3.0 magnitude, from 1-2 per year prior to 2009, to 857 in 2015, accounting for more than the other 48 contiguous states combined in that year. This came after Pruitt had both dissolved an internal working group on environmental regulation enforcement and ignored a notice released by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2013, warning of a direct link between increased seismic activity and the use of injection wells for wastewater disposal in Oklahoma.
The EPA has a responsibility to regulate the over 680,000 waste and injection wells in the United States. These wells serve as the primary disposal sites for several trillion gallons of toxic waste, much of which is generated through the industrial fracking process. When widespread use of injection disposal began in the 1950s, there had been a consensus that there was no threat to public drinking water as the wells are drilled thousands of feet into the earth. However, recent studies have shown that contamination of underground aquifers can occur due to structural damage in the wells. A national review of injection well regulations found that over 17,000 had been cited for structural issues and 7,000 showed signs of leakage.
In response to dangers posed to the environment and public health, several states have begun taking strong regulatory action against hydraulic fracking and associated wastewater disposal. Both New York and Vermont have outright banned those practices and a temporary moratorium exists in Maryland through 2017. This is an issue which also cuts across party lines, as the passage of a Republican-sponsored bill in Florida would make it the third state to completely outlaw fracking.
It is critically important that the next EPA administrator be committed to acting in the public, not corporate interest regarding environmental regulation. Please sign the below petition demanding Scott Pruitt uphold that ideal.
Dear Mr. Pruitt,
I am writing to echo the concerns of many Democratic members of Congress regarding your pending confirmation as EPA administrator. During your tenure as Attorney General of Oklahoma you demonstrated a disdain for the EPA through lawsuits aimed at weakening existing regulations contained under the Clean Water, Clean Air Act, and Clean Power Plan. You also refused to protect the public safety of Oklahomans by not acting in response to clear evidence from the USGIS that hydraulic fracking was to blame for the increased seismic activity in your state.
As administrator for the EPA you will have regulatory responsibility for the 680,000 injection wells in the United States. I demand that you prioritize water quality, public safety and environmental stability over corporate interests.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kristian Bjornard