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Victory! Federal Court Orders EPA to Ban Toxic Pesticide

There?s a new victory for environmentalists, health advocates and anyone who cares about their health: a federal court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.

The decision puts an end to the EPA?s lengthy history of stall tactics and seeming unwillingness to protect people or the environment from this nasty toxic chemical.

The EPA?s History of Stall Tactics and Non-Protection

The EPA banned the brain-damaging pesticide from household use almost two decades ago in 2000. But, the so-called ?environmental protection? agency continued to allow the toxic chemical to grow food and for other agricultural purposes.

Additionally, the EPA had planned to completely ban chlorpyifos over a year ago but then mysteriously reversed its decision after meeting with the CEO of Dow Chemical, Andrew Liveris. Scott Pruitt, the then EPA administrator. Instead, they decided to keep the brain-damaging insecticide in use and to reverse the ban.

While the court has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban the toxic pesticide, a spokesperson for the agency said that the agency ?is reviewing the decision.? That sounds like still another stall tactic by the agency that has already been court-ordered to immediately ban the chemical. Interestingly, and not surprisingly, as part of the decision, the judge admonished the EPA for ?having stalled on banning chlorpyrifos,? and ordered that all commercial registrations for chlorpyrifos be cancelled or revoked within 60 days.

Chlorpyrifos?A Serious Brain Toxin

Also known as CPF, or Dursban, the pesticide is an established nerve agent that has been linked to disruption of the brain messenger acetylcholine which is involved in memory and motor function and poor coordination, interference in the formation of brain cells and communication between brain cells, hyperactivity, learning impairment, depression?and other social and emotional changes. It has also been linked to headaches, blurred vision, unusual fatigue and other health issues.

Children are the Most Vulnerable

Research published in the journal Neurotoxicology found that the developing brains of children, especially those who are two years old and under, are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of these toxic pesticides.

Research published in the journal Pediatrics found that children with high exposures to this herbicide are more vulnerable to attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other developmental disorders. Yet, children are often the ones who are most exposed to the chemical because it is still sprayed on schoolyards and playgrounds. Another study published in Pediatrics found that fetal exposure may be linked to developmental problems.

In a study published in the journal Environmental Health, researchers labelled chlorpyrifos exposure as the ?Silent Epidemic? that is destroying our brain and neurological health.

How to Minimize Your Exposure to Chlorpyrifos

While the chemical will remain in the environment long after the ban is officially implemented, there are still things you can do to limit your exposure, including:

-Eat organic food as much as possible. Organic food is not sprayed with harmful pesticides; however, it may still come in contact with them during transportation or in grocery stores. Ideally, choose organic food at your local farmer?s market from a farmer that you know is exclusively growing organically.

-Avoid grass or parks that have been sprayed. And, definitely do not let your children play in the grass of parks or lawns that have been sprayed with pesticides. If you?re not sure about the area, assume it has been sprayed.

-Avoid spraying your lawn, flower, fruit or vegetable gardens with chemical pesticides of any kind.

-Don?t spray any chemical insecticides in your home.

-Grow your own sprouts. Not only is it the best example of eating locally, as long as you use organic seeds and pure water, they?ll be pesticide-free. Learn more about how to grow your own sprouts here.

-Place a ?Pesticide-free? yard sign to encourage others to do the same and to contribute to the increasing number of yards that are pesticide-free.

Write to the EPA telling them to follow the court order and insisting that they not employ further stall tactics or waste more taxpayer money by appealing the decision. You can reach them by mail at: Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20460. You can also make your opinions known on their Facebook page, Twitter page, Instagram page?or Flickr page.

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Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-newsletter World?s Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, co-founder of BestPlaceinCanada, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.? Follow her work.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Victory! Federal Court Orders EPA to Ban Toxic Pesticide

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The EPA failed Flint. Now we know exactly how.

As if the EPA hasn’t disappointed us enough this year, a report released today by the Office of the Inspector General found that the agency consistently dropped the ball during the Flint water crisis.

In a blistering 74-page report, the agency watchdog critiqued EPA Region 5, the district responsible for protecting human health and the environment in Michigan, for an inadequate response to the water crisis that exposed thousands to lead and caused a 58 percent spike in fetal deaths in the largely black community.

The mistakes are sobering. Despite receiving 87 citizen complaints about water quality between May 2014 and January 2016 — including many that directly referenced lead — the EPA did not take any significant action before releasing an emergency order on Jan. 21, 2016.

Instead, the report says, the EPA sent the residents form letters which recommended that they contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality or Flint water officials. In 11 cases, the EPA sent no response at all.

“As I have said before, the Flint water crisis was a failure of all levels of government,” said Dan Kildee, Democratic representative from the Michigan district that includes Flint, in a statement reacting to the report.

EPA officials had the chance to save Flint residents from months of exposure to toxins. The report cites five possible oversight actions that the EPA could have taken under the Safe Drinking Water Act, including alerting Flint residents about possible harms and acting in the place of state authorities when there is “substantial endangerment” to human health.

But in almost every case, officials deferred to their state counterparts, rather than using their legal authority to step in. As the report’s authors note, such oversight tools — like most tools out there — are “only effective when used.”

The OIG also pointed to a memo written by Region 5 scientist Miguel Del Toral, who repeatedly warned the region’s Director Susan Hedman that the lead levels in Flint water were at sky-high levels. (Anything over 15 ppb is considered unsafe — one home tested at 13,000 ppb). Hedman later resigned when it became clear that she had attempted to suppress Del Toral’s findings.

According to the report, Hedman and other EPA officials “lacked a sense of urgency” to address the water issues. Instead they failed to communicate with state officials, displayed significant “management weaknesses,” and ultimately delayed the federal response to the crisis.

And while they waited, thousands of residents were exposed to unsafe water. The consequences, for some, could last a lifetime.

“Justice for Flint families comes in many forms,” Kildee said in his statement. “The release of this report is one form of holding those responsible accountable.”

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The EPA failed Flint. Now we know exactly how.

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Scott Pruitt can’t escape his investigations just because he resigned

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Scott Pruitt may be out at the EPA, but he left in the midst of more than a dozen federal investigations into his conduct. The bulk of these investigations are audits that the EPA’s Office of Inspector General agreed to take on. A week after Pruitt’s resignation, the OIG confirmed that these investigations won’t be ending just because Pruitt is no longer in office.

The independent EPA office will continue work on at least five audits, “all of which focus on programmatic, systemic, and/or operational agency issues,” Kentia Elbaum, a spokesperson for the OIG office, wrote in an email to reporters. Some of these audits were already examining issues that predated Pruitt’s arrival, but they have all expanded in scope to include revelations about how Pruitt deployed EPA resources. That includes whether the EPA adhered to its policies on Pruitt’s first-class flights and travel through December 2017; Pruitt’s approval of raises for two employees using the Safe Drinking Water Act; and reports of his staff deleting records that should be preserved under the Freedom of Information Act. And the two others pertain to his 24/7 protective security detail.

Three of these audits could be completed as soon as August, according to Elbaum.

Now, audits are not the same as criminal investigations. Once the office issues its findings, Pruitt would only face public embarrassment since he’s no longer employed by the agency and can’t be directly reprimanded. But a number of Pruitt’s critics have said that he is worthy of a criminal probe, given the reports that he used his public office to find a job for his wife. OIG would not comment on whether Pruitt faces a criminal investigation. “While the EPA OIG announces nearly all of our audit work, we cannot confirm or deny the existence of criminal investigations, which look for violations of law,” Elbaum said. “We can say that any criminal investigations that may have existed at the time of Mr. Pruitt’s resignation will continue.”

In May, Pruitt confirmed that he established a legal defense fund to help him through his investigations. As head of the EPA, he would have had to walk a fine line to not run afoul of ethics law in collecting his donations. Now, he’s free from those restraints.

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Scott Pruitt can’t escape his investigations just because he resigned

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Will Justice Roberts stand up to the Supreme Court’s potential Voldemort?

On Monday night, President Trump announced his replacement for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy — and the news isn’t good for people who care about the planet. Trump’s nominee is 53-year-old D.C. circuit court judge Brett Kavanaugh, a dedicated originalist who has a bleak record on green issues.

“I think of him as the Lord Voldemort of the environment,” Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity and fellow at American University, tells Grist. (No joke, his last name is Snape.)

“Kavanaugh, to me, is another Scalia,” Snape adds. “On all things administrative law, energy law, environmental law, he has been pretty much the worst.”

But while Voldemort targets Muggles, Kavanaugh aims at environmental regulations. In 2012, on the D.C. circuit, he ruled that the EPA could not regulate air pollution that crosses state borders — a decision that was later reversed by the Supreme Court, 6-2. By the EPA’s reckoning, this decision literally saved lives. Had the court followed Kavanaugh’s opinion, the resulting unregulated air pollution could have led to between 13,000 and 34,000 additional deaths per year.

Kavanaugh also appears to have influenced the Supreme Court’s rulings against the Clean Air Act. He is cited in both Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA and Michigan v. EPA.

“He has just been a Clean Air Act disaster,” Snape tells Grist. “And it’s not just with regard to the EPA — he seems to have a very ideological anti-environmental stance.”

Kavanaugh also ruled to limit the power of critical habitat protections, most notably in a 2011 case around endangered fairy shrimp. The first case on the Supreme Court docket for the coming term, Snape warns, is a critical habitat case.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed and becomes SCOTUS’s Voldemort, where does that leave the rest of the court? With Kennedy gone, the court will move hard to the right, and John Roberts — who is not what most people would consider “moderate” — will become the new swing vote.

It could be worse. Roberts, who was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, has gradually been shifting toward the center throughout his tenure. In recent years, Roberts has been a bona fide moderate. In fact, he’s already credited with casting the court’s swing vote about 30 percent of the time — second only to the retiring Kennedy.

But Roberts has a sketchy record on climate science. In Massachusetts v. EPA, he joined the conservative side in voting against giving the EPA the ability to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. In his dissent, he wrote that drawing a direct link between individual choices of vehicles and the rising oceans was “pure conjecture.”

Still, some environmental campaigners think that the pro-business Roberts will be open to standardized environmental controls — which could actually be a net benefit to companies’ bottom lines. Moreover, Roberts has indicated that, despite his dissent at the time, he considers Massachusetts v. EPA to be established precedent. He’s unlikely to then want to break that precedent to overturn it.

So it remains to be seen whether Roberts will follow the path of the Dark Arts on issues related to the environment. Will he stick to climate denial, now that his vote matters even more? Or, will he come through like the original Professor Snape and rally to support the light when he’s needed most?

No matter what he decides, the consequences will be enormous — and could affect planetary health for millennia to come. No pressure.

And in case you’re wondering, here’s how the rest of the Supremes stack up in Harry Potter’s world, courtesy of Grist’s resident Potterhead, Caroline Saunders:

Clarence Thomas — Cornelius Fudge. These old boys don’t like to mess with the status quo.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Professor McGonagall. She keeps the world in line. Also, don’t cross her.

Stephen Breyer — Remus Lupin. Just like our furry friend in Harry Potter, he provides balance on tough issues.

Samuel Alito — Scrimgeour. Boy, do they both like to prosecute.

Sonia Sotomayor — Hermione Granger. Two badass female champions of the underserved.

Elena Kagan — Nymphadora Tonks. Kagan may not have technicolor hair, but she’s a hip young force on an aging bench. Don’t underestimate her.

Neil Gorsuch — Lucius Malfoy. They even look alike!

So @J.K. Rowling, when are you releasing Harry Potter and the Supreme Court Justices?

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The EPA thinks its hurricane response was so great it ordered special coins for everyone

Welcome to today’s episode of Trump’s America, in which the Mr. Burns of the EPA spent $8,522.50 on some fancy coins to celebrate the way his agency handled last year’s hurricane and wildfire seasons. Excellent.

Here’s the sitch: The EPA contracted with a company called “Lapel Pins Plus” so that it can give its employees commemorative “challenge coins.” The agency ordered 1,750 special little coins with special little display cases to congratulate employees for “PROTECTING HUMAN HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT ALL ACROSS AMERICA.” (That’s written on the coins, OK? It’s very cool and chill.)

The EPA clearly hadn’t been reading the news about Puerto Rico when it ordered the coins. We still don’t know exactly how many people in the U.S. territory died because of Hurricane Maria, but a Harvard study estimates it was around 5,000 or more. Some towns still don’t have power, and it’s been nine months since the storm hit. Residents are struggling with an unprecedented mental health crisis.

And as for the other hurricanes last year: When Harvey and Irma struck, Pruitt kept busy by disparaging discussions about climate change — that is, when he wasn’t giving interviews to right-wing media and attempting to roll back even more regulations. The EPA was slow to respond to Hurricane Harvey, leaving residents exposed to pollution.

Does all of this sound like a job well done to you?

Pruitt seems to think so — or maybe he just really, really wants special coins. He tried to get some last year, but they were never ordered.

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The EPA thinks its hurricane response was so great it ordered special coins for everyone

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The water crisis the Trump administration didn’t want you to know about

The government just released a huge study about chemicals. Mazel tov! You made it through the most boring part of this article. Now for the fun stuff: The Trump administration didn’t want you to see the results of this study.

As you go about your daily business, you’re surrounded by compounds called perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS. They’re used in carpeting, food packaging, clothing, pots and pans, and the foam firefighters use to douse flames, to name a few. That’s because PFAS are resistant to heat, water, and oil. They’re incredibly helpful! They’re also toxic.

According to a major study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, the EPA has seriously underestimated how much of this stuff human beings can safely be exposed to. The major takeaway? PFAS have thoroughly contaminated many of the nation’s water sources, and they are associated with cancer, liver damage, fertility issues, and more — even in small doses. The study is the most fleshed-out assessment of information on PFAS to date, and it found that the EPA’s exposure limits should be 10 times lower than they are now.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the study’s findings, here’s the story behind why EPA chief Scott Pruitt and the White House wanted to block its publication in the first place.

White House emails from earlier this year show that the Trump administration was worried the study would cause a “public relations nightmare,” and Pruitt’s aides intervened to block the report. An unnamed White House aide also said, “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful,” according to a report in Politico last month.

In other words, the Trump administration headed off a study that highlighted a major public health crisis because officials didn’t want to deal with the fallout. When members of Congress got vocal about releasing the report, Pruitt decided to hold a summit at EPA headquarters about PFAS in drinking water systems at the end of May.

The saga, already pretty dramatic, started to resemble an episode of House of Cards when an AP reporter was forcibly removed from that summit. The reporter, along with journalists from CNN, Politico, and E&E News, were barred from entering the summit because of limited space, but reporters who were allowed to sit in on the meeting tweeted out pictures of empty chairs in the room.

It seems like Pruitt should have learned by now that doing something like, oh, I don’t know, forcibly ejecting a reporter from a summit, only serves to attract attention to the very thing he’s trying to downplay. Luckily for us, he’s a slow learner. It’s worth highlighting two more notable revelations from the newly published 852-page CDC report.

In studies of rats and mice, researchers found regular exposure to PFAS affected development, body weight, and brain activity. If you’re thinking, “Well, those are just rats!”, keep in mind that the CDC assumes humans are more sensitive to this stuff than other animals when it goes about setting exposure limits.
The CDC only looked at 14 PFAS compounds in its study. There are more than 4,000 kinds of PFAS chemicals out there in the world, and the chemical industry regularly switches between types. So there’s a lot to learn about these pesky and incredibly harmful little compounds.

It’s no wonder the Trump administration wanted to keep this one quiet. A Harvard study from 2016 that analyzed PFAS contamination in drinking water showed that 6 million Americans were drinking water that exceeded the EPA’s limits — and that was using the agency’s old standards. This new study indicates a lot more people are at risk than previously thought.

There’s another reason why White House officials may have hoped this report would fly under the radar. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense reported to Congress that 126 water systems at or nearby military bases in the U.S. were contaminated with PFAS. More than 600 additional sites are at risk of serious contamination, which means the federal government will have to foot a hefty cleanup bill. But if there’s one thing we know about Scott Pruitt, it’s that he hates spending money on the environment.

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The water crisis the Trump administration didn’t want you to know about

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The pope lobbies oil execs while Scott Pruitt is a drilling evangelist

On Saturday, Pope Francis addressed a flock of oil executives on his home turf in Rome. Representatives from major energy companies like ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell gathered at the Vatican to hear El Papa’s impassioned plea: “There is no time to lose,” he told them. “We received the earth as a garden-home from the Creator; let us not pass it on to future generations as a wilderness.”

The pope is obsessed with the environment. In 2015, he wrote an encyclical in which he warned of the disastrous effects of climate change and called for a transition to renewable energy. This weekend, the pope re-emphasized the urgency of the situation, calling it a “challenge of epochal proportions.”

But Francis doesn’t have a monopoly on faith-based environmental rhetoric. Scott Pruitt, the scandal-ridden chief administrator of the EPA, thinks humanity’s epochal challenge presents some epic opportunities.

“Is true environmentalism ‘do not touch’? It’s like having a beautiful apple orchard that could feed the world, but the environmentalists put up a fence around the apple orchard and say, ‘Do not touch the apple orchard because it may spoil the apple orchard,’” Pruitt said on a conservative talk show last August.

This perspective relies on the idea that Earth’s natural resources are there for us to take advantage of. In fact, God mandates it. Conservative Evangelicals use a biblical passage to justify this approach: “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Pruitt uses this worldview to justify opening up land for drilling.

Pruitt’s brand of Evangelicalism clashes with the pope’s on climate, too. Ralph Drollinger, a clergyman and leader of a White House biblical study group that Pruitt often attends, has written that acknowledging humanity’s role in climate change is downright dangerous:

“To think that Man can alter the earth’s ecosystem — when God remains omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent in the current affairs of mankind — is to more than subtly espouse an ultra-hubristic, secular worldview relative to the supremacy and importance of man.”

Obviously, the pope does not agree with this approach. He’s said as much in the past. Christians who look at that famous passage in Bible about God giving man dominion over Earth’s creatures and read “dominion” as “exploitation” do not have the “correct interpretation of the Bible as intended by the Church,” he wrote in his encyclical.

How could these two men, both ostensibly working from the same primary source, have come to such wildly different conclusions? The only explanation I can think of is that God has good and bad days, like the rest of us. On good days, He sends Pope Francis bolts of renewable energy-powered inspiration, and on bad days, He sends the head of the EPA on frantic searches for fancy lotions. Who can blame Him?

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The pope lobbies oil execs while Scott Pruitt is a drilling evangelist

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Scott Pruitt introduced anti-abortion bills giving men ‘property rights’ over fetuses

This story was originally published by HuffPost and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

In 1999, Scott Pruitt, then an Oklahoma state senator, introduced a bill to grant men “property rights” over unborn fetuses, requiring women to obtain the would-be father’s permission before aborting a pregnancy.

Pruitt, now the embattled administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, submitted the legislation again in 2005.

The bill, which did not pass either time, faded from Pruitt’s political legacy. But the legislation merits new examination as the EPA chief faces down an avalanche of corruption accusations. As HuffPost previously reported, Pruitt’s support from right-wing evangelical Christians, a group that largely opposes abortion, has helped him keep his job amid calls from droves of Democrats and a handful of Republicans to fire the administrator.

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And while his current role atop the EPA does not give him any official control over abortion policy, he has appeared alongside President Donald Trump in meetings with evangelical leaders, and his draconian history on the issue is of a piece with the administration. In one of Trump’s first acts after taking office, he reinstated and expanded the Reagan-era “global gag rule,” withholding federal funding from charities and aid organizations that counsel women on family planning options that include abortion. Last week, the White House proposed a new “domestic gag rule” that would strip Planned Parenthood of funding.

“It’s not surprising that another member of Trump’s inner circle is hostile to women,” said Dawn Huckelbridge, a senior director at the progressive super PAC American Bridge, which opposes Pruitt and supports abortion rights. “But framing a fetus as a man’s property is a new low.”

American Bridge resurfaced the legislation and shared it with HuffPost. The EPA did not respond to a request for comment.

Pruitt has spent his 15 months at the EPA pushing to keep government out of the private sector. He’s sought to radically deregulate the fossil fuel and chemical industries, clear the way for companies to produce more asthma-triggering pollution, allow deadly chemicals to remain on the market, and revise restrictions on teenage workers handling dangerous pesticides.

By contrast, the bill from his time as a state legislator stated that “it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” referring to a “fetus” as “property” that has been “jointly created by both father and mother.”

The legislation would have barred doctors from performing abortions without signed statements of permission from the father, or evidence that the man could not be located “after diligent effort.” If the pregnancy resulted from rape, the woman would be required to show “such assault has been reported to a law enforcement agency having the requisite jurisdiction.”

Doctors who performed the procedure without that documentation would have risked losing their medical licenses, been “civilly liable to the father of the aborted child for any damages caused thereby,” and had to pay punitive fines of $5,000.

In a statement to The Associated Press in 1999, Pruitt said a pregnant woman who were to obtain an abortion without meeting the bill’s criteria would face legal consequences. “She’ll be held accountable for it,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt also sought to restrict abortion in other ways. In 2001,when the legislature was considering a bill to require that pregnant minors show parental permission before obtaining an abortion, he introduced an amendment to define a “fetus” as “any individual human organism from fertilization until birth.”

The timing of the bills came nearly a decade after the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which it ruled that provisions requiring a woman to obtain her husband’s permission for an abortion were unconstitutional.

“He doesn’t agree with the court’s not viewing women as property and also doesn’t believe in the intellectual concept that women should have agency over their own reproductive choices,” said Leslie McGorman, deputy director at the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Frankly there’s not a whole lot more to tell except that he is the guy who his record indicates he is.”

“He carries that lack of concern for the greater good throughout all of the things he’s done in his career,” she added, referring to his rollback of environmental safeguards.

Until 2017, Pruitt served on the board of trustees at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, an institution that has said “a wife is to submit herself graciously” to her husband. Around the time he first introduced the abortion bill, in 1999, Pruitt served on the board of the MEND Medical Clinic and Pregnancy Resource Center. Its current executive director, Forrest Cowan, has said unwed mothers have been “failed” by a “boyfriend, who values his own selfish gratification over responsibility, and her father, who should have had her back.”

Pruitt’s crusade against abortion rights continued after he left the state senate to become Oklahoma’s attorney general. When a district court found a law requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion to be unconstitutional, Pruitt appealed the decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. After losing there, he unsuccessfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

In 2012, The Tulsa World excoriated Pruitt in an editorial for wasting “more taxpayer money … on this misguided effort to control doctor-patient interaction and the practice of medicine — but only when women are concerned.”

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Scott Pruitt introduced anti-abortion bills giving men ‘property rights’ over fetuses

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EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building

This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

Scott Pruitt convened an EPA national drinking water summit in response to criticism that the EPA and White House had intervened to block a report that disclosed the harmful effects of certain contaminants in drinking water. Now, the summit has become a center of a new controversy. The Associated Press, CNN, and E&E News were barred from covering Pruitt’s speech on Tuesday.

The summit was intended to solicit feedback on a class of chemicals, perfluorinated compounds, PFAS, that can be found in nonstick coatings and firefighting foam. The study, which has still not yet been released by the Trump administration, finds the chemicals can cause health problems and developmental defects at levels far below what the EPA officially considers to be safe.

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When AP reporter Ellen Knickmeyer showed up at the EPA building to report on the day’s events, guards barred her “from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building.” When she asked “to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, the security guards grabbed the reporter by the shoulders and shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.”

Several outlets still made it in, though they were only allowed to remain for Pruitt’s speech and not for the meetings. The outlets with reserved seats included Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Hill, The Washington Post, Bloomberg BNA, and one of Pruitt’s favorites, The Daily Caller.

“This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event,” EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox said in a statement to Mother Jones. “We were able to accommodate 10 reporters, provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate and were unaware of the individual situation that has been reported.”

An hour after emailing this statement, the EPA announced it was opening the second portion of its summit to all reporters and invited Mother Jones to attend.

This is only the most recent event in Pruitt’s contentious history with press, blocking reporters from press lists and from attending the administrator’s events. Emails recently released under the Freedom of Information Act show Pruitt’s staff going to great lengths to limit public access to the administrator over the last 16 months. EPA staff determined whether reporters belonged to “friendly” and “unfriendly” outlets, and discussed strategies for blocking the so-called unfriendly press from events.


EPA guard physically shoved a reporter out of the building

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We’re ignoring the biggest Pruitt scandal: He’s making pollution worse

It’s hard to look away from the scandals engulfing EPA chief Scott Pruitt. The guy dined with a cardinal accused of sexual abuse and demoted employees who disagreed with him, just to scratch the surface. The bigger issue, though, is that he keeps protecting polluters instead of the environment.

Pruitt has made it easier for power plants to avoid upgrading to cleaner equipment, a new analysis from Rachel Leven and Fatima Bhojani at the Center for Public Integrity shows. That leaves Americans breathing dirtier air.

And even bigger changes are ahead for the New Source Review, the EPA program requiring companies to use up-to-date pollution controls. Here’s what we know:

CPI reports that 145 coal plants lacking pollution controls put out 580,000 total tons of sulfur dioxide last year, a pollutant that contributes to asthma and other breathing problems. While an EPA loophole lets coal plants built before 1978 get away with that, 38 of the 145 plants were built after ’78.
The Obama-era EPA cracked down on coal plants, forcing them to retrofit their factories and cut down on pollution. In Pruitt’s first year, those demands dropped to just 12 percent of what was done under Obama.
Ol’ Scotty is planning another gift for big polluters: an overhaul of the New Source Review. He’s already made a couple of tweaks, like asking regulators not to double-check companies’ pollution estimates. An EPA document last year argued for reforming the program, calling it a potential “burden.”

You know what’s also a burden? Air pollution, which isn’t really improving in the U.S. these days. But since Pruitt’s LinkedIn profile calls him the “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” I guess he’s just doing his job.

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We’re ignoring the biggest Pruitt scandal: He’s making pollution worse

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