As the Senate vote looms to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, climate change advocacy group Students for Climate Security is organizing protests to oppose Pruitt’s nomination.
Justin McCartney (SFS ’19), director of senate outreach strategy for Students for Climate Security, said Pruitt lacks the qualifications necessary to head the agency.
“Not only does he not believe in climate change, he has had the experience, the legal experience as Attorney General, specifically fighting against regulations, which is awful,” McCartney said of Pruitt.
McCartney also said the group is mobilizing students to contact their senators in opposition to Trump’s nominee.
“Getting students to call their senators, send emails, join up with groups like the Sierra Club or 350.org to push that sort of outreach to the senators to make sure that they know we’re not happy with Scott Pruitt or his positions climate change or his ties to the fossil fuel industry,” McCartney said of plans to reorganize.
McCartney said further action and protests are planned for once the final date for the senate vote on Pruitt’s confirmation is confirmed.
The group is also putting together packets with former White House environmental studies and articles highlighting Pruitt’s negative record to send to Senators.
Pruitt has declined to say in senate confirmation hearings if he will voluntarily recuse himself from a series of lawsuits he is currently leading against the EPA.
Twenty three conservative advocacy group, including the Club for Growth political action committee and lobby group Americans for Tax Reform, have endorsed Pruitt’s nomination. Pruitt’s nomination appears secured, according to Politico. He can lose two Republican votes and still be confirmed.
Namratha Sivakumar (SFS ’20), a member of SCS, said Pruitt favors corporate interests over protecting the environment.
“He is basically gunning for corporate interests and deregulation, and he wants to use the Environmental Protection Agency as a way to sanction environmental degradation,” Sivakumar said. “That is not what the institution is made to do and I think he’s completely antithetical to the mission of the program.”
SCS has received guidance and support from Government professor Andrew Bennett. Bennett said he strongly opposes Pruitt on the basis of his public record.
“Of all the cabinet-level nominees who are antithetical to the missions of the departments or agencies to which they have been nominated, Pruitt is in my view the least suited to public service,” Bennett wrote in an email to The Hoya. “As Attorney General of Oklahoma, he sent letters drafted by fossil fuel lobbyists to the EPA, President Obama, and other federal officials under his own signature, without identifying their true authors.”
Sivakumar said the group originally formed in response to anxiety over the incoming Trump administration. Its first protest was a march from Red Square to Myron Ebell’s office on L Street on Nov. 18 to protest Ebell’s appointment to head the EPA transition committee.
McCartney said climate change deniers cannot be in government.
“Climate change isn’t something you can put off. It’s something that has to be taken seriously,” McCartney said. “It’s something that you can’t overlook in favor of fossil fuel industry benefits.”
Students for Climate Security has received support from students in a wide array of states in an effort to reach out to the Senators who will vote on Pruitt’s confirmation, according to Sivakumar.
“We have students from swing states and students from Republican-controlled states that are really making efforts to talk to their senators, talk to their representatives, to make sure we have people in Congress fighting the appointments of those who work against the environment,” Sivakumar said.
Bennett said he is proud of the students’ work.
“I have never been prouder of Georgetown students,” Bennett wrote. “Beyond the immediate focus on Pruitt and environmental issues, the students in our group are learning a lot about how to organize to influence policies.”
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