WASHINGTON – Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that they have joined a group of 170 members of Congress in introducing resolutions in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives formally calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign. The resolution comes in response to Pruitt’s repeated ethics violations, misuse of taxpayer dollars, and actions that fundamentally undermine the mission of the EPA – favoring big polluters at the expense of science, the environment, and the health of children and families.
“Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp, but Scott Pruitt is the swamp,” said Merkley. “Time and time again at the EPA, Pruitt has put polluters’ profits ahead of public health, clean air, and clean water. In addition, the flood of revelations in recent weeks makes it clear that he is consumed by self-aggrandizement and is abusing his position in order to serve himself, not the American people. It’s unacceptable that Scott Pruitt is still in office. This unprecedented congressional opposition to Mr. Pruitt continuing at the EPA makes it perfectly clear: If Pruitt won’t step down, it’s up to President Trump to do what he claims he does best and fire him.”
“Scott Pruitt’s record of ethical problems, repeated wasting of taxpayer money and assault on environmental protections and public health enforcement adds up to a terrible trifecta, even by the low standards set by the Trump administration,” Wyden said. “Under Trump and Pruitt, EPA seems to stand for Every Possible Abuse. Heading into this Earth Day weekend, it’s long past time for Pruitt to go and for all Americans to once again have an effective and vigilant watchdog over polluters endangering their communities and health.”
A total of 39 senators and 131 representatives joined Merkley and Wyden in introducing the resolution seeking Pruitt’s ouster. The 39 cosponsoring senators represent the highest number of senators in U.S. history to sign on to a resolution formally calling for a cabinet official’s resignation. The full text of the resolution can be found HERE. The full list of Senate cosponsors can be found HERE and the full list of House cosponsors can be found HERE.
The resolution follows numerous revelations about Pruitt’s ethical violations, widespread conflicts of interest, and repeated misuse of taxpayer dollars for his personal benefit, including:
- The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office determined that the EPA violated federal law by purchasing a $43,000 phone booth for Pruitt’s office – and then hiding that purchase from Congress.
- Pruitt entered into a sweetheart housing deal to rent a Capitol Hill condo from the wife of a lobbyist – paying just $50 a night, and only paying for the nights he slept there.
- Pruitt has racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills for luxury travel perks, including booking lavish first class and charter flights to Europe and elsewhere, staying in luxury hotels, and traveling with a huge entourage of staff and security.
- Pruitt has reportedly reassigned or demoted EPA staffers who questioned his spending habits – at the same time that the EPA Inspector General is investigating him for giving unusual pay raises to favored aides.
- Pruitt has deployed EPA enforcement officers to provide round-the-clock security with questionable justification.
As the lawmakers noted in the resolution, in addition to flouting the ethical standards of his office, Pruitt has done untold damage to the EPA and carried out a long list of actions to benefit his polluter friends – at the expense of the health, safety, and livelihood of American families, including:
- Under Pruitt, the EPA is hemorrhaging staff and experts needed to protect the health and safety of the environment and the American people.
- Pruitt has repeatedly overridden the recommendations of EPA scientists in order to provide relief to industry, like when he reversed the recommendation of his agency’s scientists to ban the use of the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to brain damage in children.
- Pruitt has delayed the effective date of regulations, eased enforcement of existing regulations, and delayed the implementation of new regulations that are essential to protect public health and combat pollution.
- Pruitt has failed to exercise the enforcement authorities and duties of the EPA, which are needed to investigate and deter pollution violations.
- Pruitt has undermined science at every turn, purging advisory committees of independent scientists and replacing them with mouthpieces for industry.