We are looking at having the most corrupt administration in our nation’s history. I don’t make that accusation lightly. However, the facts are beginning to show that is a real possibility.
First we have a president-elect that doesn’t think any conflicts of interests are a bad thing as long as he is the one in conflict and personally benefitting from them. For example, after his infomercial where he announced he would do no more foreign deals, he just announced he in fact is expanding his golf course activity in Scotland. Sounds like a foreign deal to me.
But, he isn’t the only one in the administration that will have conflicts of interest or will be willing to take “political donations” just to look the other way when his donors break the law. As a matter of fact, his EPA pick is already leading the pack in that category.
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head up the EPA was more than willing to take over $40,000 in donations from chicken industry executives and then not force them to clean up the pollution they caused in the Illinois River which is the drinking water for millions of people in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The problem is that he was the Attorney General for Oklahoma, but was unwilling to continue a lawsuit against several chicken companies for the pollution.
When he took office, there was a six-year ongoing lawsuit against several chicken companies trying to force them to pay for the clean up of tons of chicken manure that had fouled the water of Northeastern Oklahoma. Most of the pollution had come from companies in Arkansas.
After taking office, Pruitt decided to drop the law suite which could have resulted in tens of millions of dollars to clean up the mess, and instead negotiated a deal with the companies to “study the problem further.”
This was only one in a series of instances where Pruitt supported and cooperated with industry before confrontation as he sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies in his state — against oil, gas, agriculture and other interests. He has also sued the EPA at least 14 times since he took office.
Now he has been chosen by Trump to head up the organization that is supposed to enforce laws on pollution and climate change. Mark Derichsweiler, led the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality division responsible for overseeing the poultry-related cleanup. Mr. Derichsweiler retired in 2015 after 40 years with the state, frustrated with Mr. Pruitt’s approach. He said:
He has advocated and stood up for the profits of business, be it the poultry companies or the energy industry and other polluters, at the expense of people who have to drink the water or breathe the air.
Pruitt has the idea that only states should worry about pollution and that the federal government shouldn’t be involved. Yet, this case shows clearly that is a really stupid position to take. Pollution does not abide by state lines. In this one case most of the pollution came from Arkansas yet Oklahoma’s water was affected.
The same is true for air pollution and other forms of pollution. Without federal oversight, one state could literally poison another state’s population without any consequences.
“Pollution doesn’t respect state boundaries,” said Patrick A. Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School. “States have limited ability to regulate pollution from outside the state, and almost every state is downstream or downwind from other pollution.”
After Pruitt got his donations from about a dozen poultry companies, he decided not to go ahead with the suit that was started by his predecessor. Instead of pushing the federal judge for a ruling that, seven years later, still hasn’t been issued, he negotiated an agreement with Arkansas and the poultry companies to conduct a study of the appropriate level of phosphorus in the Illinois River.
His argument? “Regulation through litigation is wrong in my view. That was not a decision my office made. It was a case we inherited.” The one thing that is missing in this story is that the cleanup has never been paid for by the polluters, which I believe everyone thinks is the right thing.
So, there is nothing to keep them from doing it again, and again, and again. J. D. Strong, director of Oklahoma’s Wildlife Department and the state’s former Secretary of Environment, praised Mr. Pruitt for negotiating the settlement.
“You can’t force a judge to rule,” Mr. Strong said. “Pruitt didn’t sit back and wait or badger the judge for a ruling. He worked to get the states of Oklahoma and Arkansas around the table.”
Yeah, they got around the table and did nothing of any consequence except give the poultry industry license to continue their polluting ways. That is not what I expect from my Attorney General. I expect him to punish the companies that dare to pollute my drinking water.
In 2003, Mr. Edmondson, Pruitt’s predecessor, negotiated an agreement with Arkansas to reduce poultry waste pollution, and to monitor the progress. Pruitt let that agreement lapse without seeking another formal extension of the deal.
And, Mr. Pruitt also shut down the specialized unit of four attorneys and a criminal investigator that helped initiate the lawsuit against the 14 poultry companies.
That environmental unit had broad jurisdiction, forcing pork-producing farmers to spend millions of dollars on their own cleanups and collecting tens of millions of dollars to clean up toxic sites in the state, including poisonous waste left at an abandoned lead and zinc mine known as Tar Creek.
With this kind of history, do you really think that Pruitt should be allowed anywhere near the EPA? I don’t. He is the perfect example of what happens when someone who is willing to benefit businesses instead of his constituents.
He is willing to let the poultry industry pollute water used as drinking water by his own constituents. They don’t have as much worth to Pruitt than the paltry $40,000 dollars in political donations from the very industry poisoning his constituents.
To put a finer point on this, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund said:
The president’s choices deserve a lot of deference from Congress and even environmental groups. But at some point when the nominee has spent his entire career attempting to dismantle environmental protections, it becomes unacceptable. That’s why Mr. Pruitt is the first E.P.A. nominee from either party that the Environmental Defense Fund has opposed in our 50-year history.
The entire concept of letting industries police their own pollution is ridiculous. They will not worry about who they are poisoning or even killing as long as they keep their profits high. And, as shown by this shameful example, in Red State America all they need to do is give a paltry donation to a politician and they will get away with that pollution.
The vast majority of people Trump has nominated to be in his cabinet are being shown to be anything less than stellar in protecting the American People. They are only interested in protecting their own profits and those of their companies or donors.
From Rex Tillerson to Jeff Sessions to Betsy DeVos to Scott Pruitt, we are looking at the worst administration in history. We are also probably looking at the most corrupt administration in history.
You better get used to being used as pawns by this administration. Because you won’t gain any benefit from this gang of thieves. You will only wind up paying the price for their power grab.
Every amount of progress made since the end of World War II is on the line from civil rights to public education to clean air and water. But, business will do quite nicely during this time. Only, they won’t “trickle-down” any of that benefit to you.
Since these autocrats with help from the Republican Party are hell-bent on establishing a new country, should we name it the “United Businesses of America”? I am sure our new president would prefer the “United States of Trump”.
Maybe we should change our money to read “In Money We Trust”. Or, change the pledge of allegiance to say “One nation under business”. We can change the Declaration of Independence to read “all non-business executives are created as serfs”.
If this goes as it appears to be heading, we will all be singing that old folk song. The one that says: “St. Peter don’t call me because I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store”.
Welcome to Trump’s bold backwards future. Lackeys like Pruitt will help him achieve it. And we all lose while the “shirts keep marching along.”