Environment Montana Research and Policy Center
The Missoulian
Skye Borden

Recently, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt used a Pennsylvania coal mine as a backdrop to announce his “Back to Basics” agenda. Instead of directing the EPA to adhere to its mission of protecting our health, Pruitt instructed the agency to follow the polluter playbook to the letter.

Dismantling health safeguards and siding with big polluters puts us all at risk. Instead of getting us back to “basics,” it will take us back in time to a country with more air pollution, more lead in our water, and more asthma attacks and respiratory illness.

The Harvey Mine that Pruitt visited is an example of the danger associated with letting polluters run rampant. The coal mine was fined $3 million for dumping contaminated wastewater into the Ohio River last year in violation of the Clean Water Act.

While President Trump and Scott Pruitt want to force Americans to revert back to 19th century dirty energy, even Consol Energy – the owner of the Harvey Mine – knows that clean energy is the future. Consol has sold seven of its West Virginia coal mines since 2013, and its CEO has indicated his intention to “offload the business” completely in response to market forces that favor cleaner sources of energy.

The overwhelming majority of Americans support efforts to address climate change and protect public health. A new poll from CNBC found that the majority of Americans disagree with Trump’s attempts to roll back lifesaving standards to address climate change that were enacted under President Obama.

American’s didn’t vote for an agenda that gives breaks to polluters and dismantles lifesaving protections for clean air, healthy water and safe food. And, they didn’t vote for a dirty energy lackey to be put in charge of protecting public health.

Pruitt’s “Back to Basics” plan is an assault on public health, plain and simple. It isn’t good for the nation, and it isn’t good for Montana.