Young: From Obama’s EPA to Trump’s PPA (column) | SummitDaily.com

Young: From Obama’s EPA to Trump’s PPA (column)

John Young
Guest column

December 16, 2016

Kathleen Stama sounded like the cat that had just dined on filet de canary.

She told the Denver Post that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is a great choice to run the EPA, as he understands that "centralized government is not the best way to protect the environment."

Stama is all about protecting the environment. Except when she is spokesperson for the Western Energy Alliance, which is all about drilling for oil and mining coal.

In office, Scott Pruitt has been just as willing a servant of industry, and just as concerned about the environment. He's fought the EPA at every turn, in fact.

Sure, local control is the best way to protect the environment. After all, every state is apportioned its own air, right? When every state does what's best for the air, then all states will have clean air, right?

Right.

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In other words, rename the agency Stama, and President-elect Trump, envision. What once was the EPA would be the PPA — Polluter Protection Administration.

This is what Americans have been clamoring for. Just see the numbers in the Pew Research Center's poll about environmental protection: 74 percent say that industry should get cart blanche in the face of an oppressive federal government.

Oh, wait; like President-elect Trump is prone to do, I misread those numbers.

Actually, Pew found that 74 percent of Americans say "the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment," while 23 percent say "the government has gone too far in its effort to protect the environment."

Maybe the energy industry mouthpiece is genuine in saying the Trump-Pruitt approach is about protecting the environment better. But Jason McFarland is all about drilling.

McFarland, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors, told the Post that the Pruitt choice shows the "clear focus" of the Trump administration would be oil and gas development.

But what about environmental protection? At least one of those words will be expunged from Pruitt's agency, apparently.

Let's acknowledge that one toady for industry (Pruitt) running what has been our environmental watchdog cannot single-handedly turn around an industry that has been so flush with success that this year the United States became an exporter of oil for the first time in decades.

(As voracious and well-heeled as the oil industry is, this is a little like the NBA changing the rules so that the Golden State Warriors can hit a few more threes.)

Again, Pruitt cannot do it alone. So Trump has chosen Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, another who has called climate change "a hoax," to be interior secretary. Trust him to support increased drilling and mining on federal lands.

We can be certain that a subtext of such management of public lands will be the inclination, not just to drill it, but to sell it to Trump wannabes.

They can make their purchases, lay scenic natural assets to waste, declare bankruptcy and run for president someday.

Now, this sounds really bad for the environment — not just here and there — but everywhere.

Trump is bent on making a bum's rush past the science of climate change so that moneyed interests that don't need any help can get it anyway.

Pruitt's Oklahoma, by the way, was having two fracking-related earthquakes per day until the state eased off on the accelerator in the deep disposal of waste water. That may seem prudent, but it took seven years for Oklahoma to do anything about this trend.

Rest assured, under a Trump administration, the PPA will wait at least that long to do anything that will slow industry's roll.

Elections have consequences. To all you '"Vote for nobody" types who thought this was a game, Trump agrees with you. He intends to have a high time at it.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.