As a former prosecutor, the new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt should know that destruction of evidence is a crime. Obstruction of justice is what it is called, although in this case, it is not legal, but environmental justice that is being administratively obstructed
Pruitt has bragged that one of his first actions at the Environmental Protection Agency has been to cancel the collection of evidence by energy companies that relates to their potential environmental effects from their leaks of methane.
As swiftly as the one-time Oklahoma Attorney General made his move, he was too late to pre-empt all the data. Several energy companies had already turned in their homework. But before the evidence could be brought to light, Administrator Pruitt, and please pardon the brutal metaphor here, aborted it.
Pruitt has the nerve to call his intention to roll back Obama Administration environmental rules protecting America’s air and water, “a return to rule of law.”
What makes this rhetorical abuse especially noxious is that AG Pruitt not only promulgated law ruled by oil and gas interests in Oklahoma, he successfully spread the corruption to the National Association of Republican Attorneys General.
If you go to our davemarash.com website and search for Eric Lipton, you can hear about his Pulitzer Prize-winning NY Times story of how the GOP AGs became the litigators for the energy industry. And how richly they were rewarded for it, in outright campaign cash contributions and other political benefits.
Pruitt’s allies in Congress are halfway done with their plot to gut methane regulation. The rule rollback has passed the House and may soon be voted on by the Senate. The result will be a lose-lose-lose proposition for America, and particularly for New Mexico. The energy toadies will not only cost us protection from the biggest methane plume in North America, it will re-enable the waste of hundreds of millions of dollars in recapturable natural gas and an estimated $100 million a year in royalties for gas let loose from federal or Native American lands. And it will cost New Mexico jobs. Mitigating methane has become a growth industry in impoverished New Mexico. The rule rollback will end mitigation and those jobs. And by the way, recent experience with tough methane regulation in Wyoming and Colorado put to the lie, the Trump Administration claim that regulation kills employment in the oil and gas fields. For a couple of years now, those states have limited emissions of methane with no cost in either corporate profits or job creation.
Laura Paskus is an environmental reporter with long experience in New Mexico and the Southwest. She currently reports for the New Mexico Political Report and is writing a book that’s based on a year-long project, “At the Precipice: New Mexico’s Changing Climate,” for New Mexico In Depth. Her work has appeared in Al Jazeera America, Ms. Magazine, Indian Country Today, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review, and High Country News, where she also served as Assistant Editor.