As the owner of an environmental, health and safety consulting business, you can bet that I’ve been carefully monitoring the president-elect’s transition process, especially given his campaign promises to reduce regulation. I’ve been waiting for clues that could signal how his administration intends to approach EHS regulation, especially as it applies to small manufacturing, construction and general industry businesses.
I especially have been interested to see who he appoints to head the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Labor, since these obviously are the agencies tasked with dictating, managing and enforcing EHS regulations. The appointees, and their respective attitudes and records on these issues, should be very telling.
As of late last week, those appointees finally have been made and appear to speak loudly as to the likely intentions of Donald Trump’s administration. I’ve spent a little time researching both appointees, and what I’ve learned is very worrying for me and to those of us who are concerned about protecting our local communities, the environment and workplace safety.
In recent weeks, Trump has demonstrated a very consistent pattern: appointing agency leaders whose attitudes and records clearly oppose and potentially undermine the very purpose and values of the departments they’ve been chosen to lead.
Betsy DeVos who was tapped as education secretary, favors private education over the public school system that her agency is charged with running. The Department of Housing & Urban Development will be lead by Ben Carson, who opposes social welfare programs and fair housing policies that the agency promotes and relies on to succeed. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry has been chosen to run the Department Of Energy, a department that he famously claimed to want to eliminate during his presidential campaign (but then forgot the agency’s name during a debate).
This ominous, and puzzling pattern continues with Trump’s EPA and DOL choices. Here is what I’ve learned about those appointees:
Environmental Protection Agency Appointee: Scott Pruitt
Pruitt is a Republican, currently holds the office of Oklahoma Attorney General and is a long-time opponent of the EPA and a climate change skeptic. As attorney general, he’s actually sued the EPA and has been described as a “key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies.” In addition, he’s a noted ally and alleged lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry.
Pruitt offered the following quote to summarize his intentions: “Americans are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American business.”
Trump added, ““My administration strongly believes in environmental protection, and Scott Pruitt will be a powerful advocate for that mission while promoting jobs, safety and opportunity.”
A less optimistic opinion was offered by Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, who said: “Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.”
Department of Labor Appointee: Andrew Puzder
Puzder also is a Republican, and was a key contributor and senior advisor to the Trump campaign. He currently is the CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc., which operates the Carl’s Jr. and Hardees fast food chains, and is a multi-millionaire, joining the ranks of other super-wealthy Trump appointees.