HEAL Utah Expresses Dismay About Trump EPA Pick

HEAL Utah Expresses Dismay About Trump EPA Pick

Enviro Group Raises Concern that New Chief Will Doom Clean Air, Climate Efforts

HEAL Utah today raised serious concerns about the news that President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Scott Pruitt to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has a track record of fighting climate change and clean air safeguards during his time as Oklahoma attorney general.

HEAL Utah’s Executive Director Matt Pacenza noted that EPA policies have a powerful effect on Utah, from the agency’s efforts to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet to its work helping to clean up our polluted air.

“If the EPA moves away from protecting the health of our families towards preserving the profits of the fossil fuels industry, Utahns will pay the price,” said Pacenza.

One key clue to Pruitt’s disposition is his stance on “regional haze,” the key piece of the Clean Air Act which requires states to limit emissions from facilities like coal power plants to protect scenic vistas in our National Parks. Pruitt unsuccessfully sued the federal agency several times to block its efforts to address emissions from Oklahoma’s aging coal plants.

Pacenza pointed out that the coming months and years are key to whether the EPA will succeed in forcing Rocky Mountain Power to install cutting-edge technologies to sharply reduce emissions from its Hunter and Huntington power plants in central Utah. Now, it appears, Pruitt will play a key role in those decisions.

“Today’s news is great for utility profits – and terrible news for Utahns who care about breathing easier and about improving obscured views in our National Parks,” Pacenza said.

In addition, Pacenza said, the EPA under Pruitt has a key role to play in whether Utah succeeds in cleaning up the pollution which plagues our northern Utah valleys during wintertime inversions. The federal agency “approves” or “disapproves” Utah’s plans to reduce emissions from our cars, buildings and industry. It also institutes programs like the “Tier 3” program, which requires cleaner gas and more robust pollution control systems in vehicles.

“If the EPA under Trump’s leadership backs off enforcing the Clean Air Act, our most vulnerable citizens – pregnant women, children, the elderly and anyone with breathing disorders – will suffer,” Pacenza noted.

Lastly, he said, Trump’s pick confirms Washington will stand in the way of commonsense policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, blocking efforts to fight off the warming temperatures, reduced snowpack, diminished water supply and increased risk of drought and forest fires which climate change is bringing to Utah.

“Humanity has precious little time left to act boldly to address climate change,” said Pacenza. “The appointment of Scott Pruitt suggests we have even less of a chance of warding off disaster for Utah – and for everyone.”

For more information, contact Pacenza at matt@healutah.org or 801-864-0264.