Scott Pruitt Talks Big, But the Details Keep Getting in His Way

Duke Energy officials show off the latest coal ash leak from one of their power plants. This one leaked coal ash into the Dan River at Eden, NC in 2014.John D. Simmons/TNS/ZUMAPRESS

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Poor Scott Pruitt. He’s dedicated to tearing down every environmental rule he can think of, but it turns out he’s doing a shoddy job of it. And while his boss might not care about that, it turns out that the courts do. Here’s the Washington Post today:

In March, as part of Scott Pruitt’s aggressive campaign to roll back federal regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed relaxing standards for storing potentially toxic waste produced by coal-burning power plants.

EPA officials cited a study indicating that forcing utilities to get rid of unlined coal ash ponds too quickly could strain the electrical grid in several regions of the country. But when environmental advocates scrutinized the specifics, they discovered a problem: The evidence cited was not established scientific research. Instead, the agency was relying on a four-page document by the utility industry’s trade association, the Edison Electric Institute, which has acknowledged that its conclusions were not “part of or a summary of a larger study.”

….The coal ash proposal is among the more than half-dozen major EPA moves that have been snagged by procedural and legal problems. The delays threaten to tarnish Pruitt’s image as an effective warrior in President Trump’s battle against federal regulations, a reputation that has so far saved the EPA administrator his job amid an array of investigations into ethical and management lapses.

Pruitt thinks that science is just hogwash, yet another part of the academy controlled by liberals and whale huggers. So he’s fine with justifying EPA’s proposals using excerpts from industry pamphlets, fossil fuel advertising, or whatever else comes to hand. Unfortunately for him, the court system takes the idea of science a little more seriously and wants to see actual analysis performed by actual scientist who have at least a nodding acquaintance with actual evidence. This is a serious roadblock to Pruitt’s ambitions. Sad.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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