By Liz Schmitt 1-18-2017

I work for a science-based organization, and we are not alone in our opposition to Scott Pruitt as the potential new head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Joining us are labor and environmental groups, faith organizations, public interest groups, immigrant rights groupsformer state Environmental Protection Agency heads, and even the Humane Society.

Look, if the Humane Society has a beef with the potential next head of the EPA, maybe we should all worry a little.

Don't get me wrong: We're not happy about Rex Tillerson, either. But Scott Pruitt is so controversial that even many in the energy industry are scared he won't be confirmed — and it's rare for the Senate to not confirm presidential appointees.

So why do we not like Scott? It's not personal. It's just that he has spent his career attacking the very agency he now gleefully waits to command.

As Oklahoma's Attorney General, he has sued the EPA 14 times. He's used lawsuits and state-based changes to try to thwart the mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, at home and nationwide. He disagrees — fundamentally, it seems — with protections around our air and water.

Protecting us from what, exactly? How about mercury, a neurotoxin particularly harmful to children's development? How about ozone, a gas that makes life more difficult for people with asthma, like me?

Scott Pruitt has tried to roll back protections that clean up our drinking water. In a country where Flint is one of dozens of U.S. cities where residents can't drink the water, it's dangerous to hand over this role to Scott Pruitt.

Of course, Pruitt also doesn't agree with the science of climate change. (That seems to be a running theme with Trump's nominees.) Never mind that our military treats climate change as a serious threat — why should the head of the Environmental Protection Agency bother listening to scientists?

Then there are the earthquakes. In addition to bad air days, a warming globe, lead in drinking water, mercury in the air, and worker safety, imagine if an industry were causing earthquakes in your town. When natural gas fracking started to cause dozens of earthquakes in Oklahoma, the people there didn't have a leader on their side, because then-Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was in the pocket of the energy industry.

That's what we're getting if we let Scott Pruitt's nomination pass: A man who we can count on to side with industry at the expense of our public health and safety.

We need the EPA to protect air, water, and the very ground itself. Especially those who are pregnant, laborers, people of color, people who drink water. And people of faith. We need a truth-teller, a justice-seeker in charge of this agency. Because protecting the environment isn't just about birds and trees — it's a matter of justice.

Scott Pruitt's confirmation hearing is today, but the Senate will still have to vote on him. Every senator needs to hear that #pollutingPruitt is a controversial and untrustworthy choice to lead the EPA.

It's like putting a fox in charge of our own henhouse.

Liz Schmitt is formerly Creation Care Campaign Associate for Sojourners. You can follow her @UCSLiz and follow the Scott Pruitt hearing on twitter using #pollutingPruitt.

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