MSNBC’s For The Record Provides Forum For Obama And Bush EPA Chiefs To Explain Why They’re “Skeptical” Of Scott Pruitt

MSNBC
Greta Van Susteren (host)
March 2, 2017

Former George W. Bush EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman: “The Agency Is About Protecting Human Health And The Environment, And We Don’t Want To Lose That”

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN (HOST): Gina McCarthy was EPA administrator under President Obama from 2013 to 2017, and former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman was President George W. Bush’s first EPA administrator from 2000 to 2003. Welcome to both of you and first to you, Governor, are you in any way skeptical of the new EPA administrator, that he’ll do the right thing?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITHMAN: Well, I’m fairly skeptical because it’s not going to be up to him as Gina well knows. As an administrator, you carry out the policies of the president. It’s a little hard to figure out this president, though, because he’ll say one thing in one minute and then find that some member of his cabinet is doing something else, which you have to believe is coming from him. So the signals are very mixed. I hope fervently that the kind of message that the administrator gave the other day to the people who work at the agency, the career staff, where it was a pretty balanced approach, that’s going to be more the tone we’re going to see, more respect for the agency and its mission, what it does. The agency is about protecting human health and the environment, and we don’t want to lose that in an effort to ensure that the regulations in place are the ones that the administration wants, of which it feels comfortable — and that any overreach has been addressed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Administrator McCarthy, the statement that the EPA Administrator Pruitt said the other day, and I think that’s what the governor was referencing, was this. “We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment. We don’t have to choose between the two.” Now, Scott Pruitt as attorney general in the state of Oklahoma was often at odds with the EPA, even suing them. So what are your — what’s your level of confidence that he can do the right job as the EPA administrator?

GINA MCCARTHY: Well, I’m skeptical as well, and I agree with Governor Whitman that this is going to be a very difficult time for EPA. I think people have to realize that this budget proposal that is being put on the table would take the staffing levels at EPA back to where they were 40 years ago. And it cuts the agency by a quarter in its overall budget. This is actually going to be devastating for the agency’s ability to protect public health. Now, I understood that this administration was likely not supportive of climate initiatives, but this is going to the heart of our air and water protections. This is going to the heart of how EPA protects public health, American families, so you can turn your tap water and expect to have clean drinking water, so that we can deal with kids that have asthma attacks and provide cleaner air for them. This is about a bipartisan issue that was embraced 47 years ago when EPA was established by Richard Nixon. This is really not just about climate anymore. This is an attack on the agency. We’re talking about 42 percent of our scientists potentially losing their jobs this year. Not just one out of every five people in that agency. I mean, this is not just disagreeing with the science and wanting to deny it, this is telling half of the scientists that they’re no longer welcome in the premier environmental science agency in the world, the Environmental Protection Agency.