January 11, 2017

Pruitt an “Unacceptable Choice,” Tennessee Scientists Tell Sens. Alexander and Corker

Experts Call EPA Nominee a Threat to Public Health, Urge a “No” Vote

Nashville (January 12, 2017)—Scientists, engineers and health professionals in Tennessee will deliver letters to the offices of Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker expressing their strong opposition to President-elect Trump’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt. Alexander and Corker, both Republicans, will be key votes on whether the closely-divided Senate puts Pruitt in charge of the EPA, an agency he has repeatedly tried to undermine as Oklahoma attorney general.

“Mr. Pruitt has spent his career challenging and undermining public health protections and critical science-based standards,” says the letter, signed by 56 Tennessee scientists, engineers and health professionals. “We need an EPA administrator who will adhere to the science and preserve these protections rather than erode them to the benefit of industry.”

The experts say that the EPA has an important role to play in protecting Tennesseans from dangers like coal ash spills and reducing the risk of climate change—but that Pruitt’s record shows that he simply won’t do the job, and his confirmation would pose a threat to public health.

As the scientists and experts note, just two laws enforced by the EPA—the Cross State Air Pollution Rule and the Mercury and Air Toxics Rule—will save Tennessee some $17 billion in health costs for 2016 and prevent up to 2,100 premature deaths, yet Pruitt has sued the EPA to block these rules. Pruitt has consistently opposed the EPA’s ability to enforce laws that keep Tennessee’s air and drinking water safe.

Scientists will deliver their letter to Sen. Alexander today and Sen. Corker on Friday. In addition to the letters, scientists are speaking out in opposition to Pruitt with full-page ads running in the Chattanooga Free Press and Knoxville Sentinel this Sunday.

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.