Thursday, July 5, 2018

Bibliography Pruitt's Secrecy + ME FIRST state of mind

Good news Pruitt is gone, but keep in mind, the people that put him into that position love the job he did.  You can bet Andrew Wheeler will be even worse, because he’s a smooth operator.  After all their goal is vandalize the E.P.A.’s regulatory abilities as much as possible.  And to do so with absolutist disregard for governmental rules and standards, or the public outcry and condemnation of their cavalier disregard for fundamental physical realities (read objective scientific knowledge) and their ME FIRST damned the consequences mentality.

I keep wondering why we don’t learn to enunciate our fundamental standards well enough so that we can start directly taking on their faith-blinded dogmatic fantasies - which have been given such a free pass for way the hell too long.

Why is it okay to do government business regarding important health and environmental regulations in secrecy?

Why are Corporate Profits more important than We The People and our wellbeing?

Why refuse to acknowledge human health and even social health depends on a healthy environment with it’s folds within folds of interconnected biological and geophysical systems and processes that provide our very life support system?  How have we become so blinded to that?

Why aren’t we allowed to demand that business people and politicians and special interests, truthfully represent physical facts?

What’s with all the ME FIRST thinking?  What happened to Enlightened Self-Interest?

Why not publicly enunciate and stand up for fundamental scientific standards?

Such as the first law of Constructive Debate: 
Honestly represent your opponents’ position!  

Everyone’s goal is learning, 
fidelity to physical facts is the gold standard.  

Science is a world where Free Speech does 
not mean it’s okay to lie or slander with malicious intent.  

Informed constructive skepticism is the rule.   
Dishonest bluster, bullying, lying is a crime.

We need each other to keep ourselves honest.

Quick list of ten articles I covered in this collection reporting on Pruitt's Kremlin style obsession with secrecy and stonewalling the public.
By Scott Bronstein, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin, July 2, 2018,  CNN

By Marianna Lavelle - June 1, 2018,

By Marianna Lavelle - May 17, 2018,

By Mark Hefflinger - NEWS MAY 9, 2018

By Umair Irfan Updated Apr 16, 2018,

By Daniel Politi   - APRIL 07, 2018, Slate

By Emily Holden, 02/26/2018, Politico

By Noga Tarnopolsky - FEB 18, 2018 - JERUSALEM

John DiStaso - Feb 13, 2018, WMUR

By Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton - Aug. 11, 2017, New York Times

Kristin Mink, teacher who encouraged Pruitt to resign, Responds to Calls For Civility
The Beat With Ari Melber, July 3, 2018  


E.P.A. Aide Questioned Deleting Sensitive Meeting Details. Then She Was Fired.

Last summer one of (Pruitt’s) senior schedulers, Madeline G. Morris, was fired by Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff, Kevin Chmielewski, who said he let her go because she was questioning the practice of retroactively deleting meetings from the calendar. Mr. Chmielewski has emerged as a harsh critic of Mr. Pruitt after a bitter falling out that led to his departure from the agency as well.

Ms. Morris, who started work as Mr. Pruitt’s scheduler in June 2017, confirmed Wednesday that she was fired after she raised objections about the deletions, which she believed were illegal, although she said that Mr. Chmielewski did not tell her his reasons for firing her. …

… Ms. Morris was called last July by two agency lawyers, who told her that the changes she was making to Mr. Pruitt’s schedule might be illegal, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The following month, Ms. Morris noticed that a number of changes had been made to the record of a trip Mr. Pruitt had taken to Italy. Ms. Morris questioned the legality of the changes to Mr. Chmielewski and Mr. Jackson, and a few days later was fired, he said.

A retroactive deletion of meetings and attendees from a cabinet official’s public records could violate the Federal Records Act, which requires agencies to maintain and preserve public documents, as well as a law prohibiting intentional distortion of federal records. …
Whistleblower: EPA's Pruitt kept secret calendar to hide meetings

By Scott Bronstein, Curt Devine and Drew Griffin, July 2, 2018,  CNN

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides have kept "secret" calendars and schedules to overtly hide controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives and others, according to a former EPA official who is expected to soon testify before Congress. A review of EPA documents by CNN found discrepancies between Pruitt's official calendar and other records.

EPA staffers met routinely in Pruitt's office to "scrub," alter or remove from Pruitt's official calendar numerous records because they might "look bad," according to Kevin Chmielewski, Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff for operations, who attended the meetings.

A CNN review which compared Pruitt's public calendar with internal EPA schedules and emails shows more than two dozen meetings, events or calls were omitted from his public calendar.

Chmielewski said that some interactions were intentionally removed from Pruitt's calendar after they occurred …

… Chmielewski says he was forced to leave the EPA in February after raising questions about Pruitt's spending and management …

CNN has reached out to EPA repeatedly for comment on the allegations.

Chmielewski's description of hiding controversial events from the public appears to be supported by discrepancies between Pruitt's public calendar …

… BLT Prime restaurant inside Trump International Hotel hosted by coal producer Alliance Resource Partners and its CEO, Joseph Craft.  Craft, who donated $1 million to President Donald Trump's inauguration …

…his internal schedule shows that the meeting also included Anthony Chiarello, the then-CEO of shipping company TOTE. …

… Pruitt took a controversial trip to Italy that cost taxpayers $120,000. While there he dined with Cardinal Pell, a top Vatican official known for denying climate change who was then under investigation for claims of prior sexual offenses. …

Emails shed new light on Pruitt's Nebraska trip

In Rebuke to Pruitt, EPA Science Board Votes to Review Climate Policy Changes

The board, with more than a dozen Pruitt-appointed members, questioned his efforts to roll back the Clean Power Plan and weaken auto standards and other regulations.

By Marianna Lavelle - June 1, 2018

The Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board, in a rebuke to the Trump administration's retreat on environmental protection, voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a full board review of the agency's most important actions to dismantle climate policy.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, who appointed about 15 members of the 44-member board, now must decide whether to accept its recommendation that the outside scientific experts be allowed to formally vet his decisions. …

… And the board voted unanimously for a review of Pruitt's proposal to restrict the types of scientific evidence the agency can use in writing EPA rules, his so-called "secret science" policy.

In a series of votes, the board endorsed all of the recommendations of a work group of 10 of its members, who reported that they had received little information from the agency on the science driving Pruitt's policy changes. …

Pruitt’s Own Scientist Appointees Challenge EPA Science Restrictions

The proposal would block vital health research in pollution regulations. Members of EPA's scientific review board, including Pruitt appointees, want it scrutinized.

By Marianna Lavelle - May 17, 2018

Ten members of an SAB work group, in a signed memorandum, called for the full board to scrutinize Pruitt's proposal at a meeting on May 31, saying his approach was designed without necessary input from the scientific community. Leading national science organizations have mounted a campaign to reject Pruitt's approach.

Pruitt's proposal would no longer allow the EPA to use scientific studies where the underlying data is not public. The move could rule out health studies that promised participants confidentiality—some of which have served as the underpinning of regulations, especially clean air standards. The policy takes up a cause long-championed by the fossil fuel industry and its allies in Congress.

Union Pacific Execs Discussed Deregulatory Wishlist in Closed-Door Meeting with EPA’s Pruitt

By Mark Hefflinger - NEWS MAY 9, 2018

Internal EPA records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the Sierra Club have revealed that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt met in secret with Union Pacific executives in Omaha during his October 2017 trip to Nebraska, to discuss the company’s deregulatory wishlist.
The email exchange between U.P. and EPA officials lists the attendees of the meeting with Pruitt — including Union Pacific chairman, president and CEO Lance Fritz — and the items that would be discussed:
Lance Fritz- Chairman, President, and CEO- Union Pacific
Cameron Scott- Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer- Union Pacific
Scott Moore- Senior Vice President Corporate Relations- Union Pacific
Mike Rock- Vice President External Relations- Union Pacific
Items of Discussion:
Clean Power Plan
Waters of the U.S.
Railroad Tie Combustion Rule (burning them vs. landfill)
Overall permit reform”

The Railroad Tie Combustion Rule is of particular interest to U.P., because it regulates how railroad companies can dispose of the millions of creosote-treated railroad ties they discard annually in a way that does not violate the Clean Air Act or other environmental protections with the emission of toxic air pollutants generated from the wood preservatives in the ties. …

AO: Scott Pruitt’s $43,000 secret phone booth broke the law

A new Government Accountability Office report concludes that the EPA violated two laws in building the booth.

By Umair Irfan Updated Apr 16, 2018

The morass of ethical questions around Scott Pruitt’s conduct as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is now stunningly thick.
But the Government Accountability Office has just answered one key question amid the allegations: The EPA broke the law when it built Pruitt’s secret phone booth last year.

In an opinion published Monday, the GAO reported that the agency violated Section 710 of the 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act. The rule states that agencies can’t spend more than $5,000 to improve the office of a presidential appointee, whether that’s new furniture, paintings, or hardware. At least, not without approval from Congress.

Pruitt’s soundproof privacy booth, which was first reported by the Washington Post in September, cost $43,238.68. And it’s illegal for another reason too, says GAO: It violates the Antideficiency Act, which states that agencies aren’t allowed to rack up bills beyond what Congress has appropriated for them.

The GAO reported that the breakdown for the bill included …

Expanded 24-Hour Security for EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Has Cost Taxpayers $3 Million

By Daniel Politi   - APRIL 07, 2018
Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is a man who is concerned about his safety. And that concern has come at a steep cost for taxpayers, adding up to some $3 million when pay is included with travel expenses, according to an EPA official who talked to the Associated Press about how Pruitt has been expanding his own personal security detail since coming into office. There is now a 20-member full-time detail on Pruitt, which is three times larger than his predecessor’s part-time security detail. 
It seems the increased spending on Pruitt’s security came shortly after he arrived in Washington and promoted a former Secret Service agent to head up his security detail. Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, who operates a private security company, quickly began expanding the EPA chief’s security detail so he would be well guarded 24 hours a day, even on family holidays. “Multiple” agents, for example, accompanied Pruitt to a family vacation in Disneyland. 

Anti-secrecy lawsuits soaring against Pruitt's EPA
Freedom of Information Act litigation is pouring in as the agency refuses to divulge details about the administrator's activities and travels.

By Emily Holden, 02/26/2018

The Environmental Protection Agency has experienced a huge surge in open records lawsuits since President Donald Trump took office, an analysis of data reviewed by POLITICO shows — a trend that comes amid mounting criticism of EPA's secrecy about Administrator Scott Pruitt’s travels, meetings and policy decisions. …

All told, plaintiffs have filed 55 public records lawsuits against EPA since Trump's inauguration, according to POLITICO's review of a database of cases compiled by The FOIA Project, an initiative run by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
Forty-six of those lawsuits came in 2017, making it the busiest calendar year by far for open-records cases brought against EPA, according to data stretching back to 1992.  …

Shhh! The back story of EPA chief Scott Pruitt's highly secret, on-and-off, official non-visit to Israel

By Noga Tarnopolsky - Feb 18, 2018 - JERUSALEM

…Breaking with established protocol, the Israeli Government Press Office did not send out his schedule or any information regarding his stay, which was never officially announced.

All attempts to get a schedule, discover his arrival time or the members of his entourage — all information usually made available — failed. Nor were officials forthcoming about why the visit was so hush-hush. …

To all questions, Israel's Foreign Ministry replied: "Ask the [U.S.] Embassy.”

On the record, the embassy declined so much as to acknowledge Pruitt's plans. …

EPA chief Pruitt meets privately with Sununu, officials of forest products industry

Nation's top environmental official arrived in state unannounced due to ‘security concerns’
John DiStaso - Feb 13, 2018

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt came to New Hampshire Tuesday for private meetings with Gov. Chris Sununu and representatives of the forest products industry, as well as a stop at a federal Superfund site in Nashua.

Following Pruitt’s visit, the EPA issued a statement focusing on his meeting at Central Paper Products, Inc., in Manchester. … The meeting between Sununu and Pruitt was not announced in advance, setting off criticism from the state Democratic Party.

Sununu spokesman Benjamin Vihstadt confirmed that the governor had met with Pruitt at the State House after the meeting ended. …

Scott Pruitt Is Carrying Out His E.P.A. Agenda in Secret

By Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton - Aug. 11, 2017

WASHINGTON — When career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency are summoned to a meeting with the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, at agency headquarters, they no longer can count on easy access to the floor where his office is, according to interviews with employees of the federal agency.

Doors to the floor are now frequently locked, and employees have to have an escort to gain entrance.

Some employees say they are also told to leave behind their cellphones when they meet with Mr. Pruitt, and are sometimes told not to take notes.

Mr. Pruitt, according to the employees, who requested anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs, often makes important phone calls from other offices rather than use the phone in his office, and he is accompanied, even at E.P.A. headquarters, by armed guards, the first head of the agency to ever request round-the-clock security. 

A former Oklahoma attorney general who built his career suing the E.P.A., and whose LinkedIn profile still describes him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda,” Mr. Pruitt has made it clear that he sees his mission to be dismantling the agency’s policies — and even portions of the institution itself.

The Beat With Ari Melber
Published by MSNBC on Jul 3, 2018
Teacher Kristin Mink, who confronted Trump EPA Chief Scott Pruitt in a restaurant over his mounting scandals and asked him to resign, joins The Beat. Mink defends her actions:

At 6:00 Kristin Mink says:  

"Let me say this first is that I think that this whole debate about civility is a waste of time.  I wish that that the left would stop talking about it because civility is not the issue here!  

You have people who are speaking up there's no violence involved you know this is literally people voicing what it is they care about, to the people whose salaries they pay.  

Right, so if they want to then turn that conversation away from the issues and to, oh it's not the right time, it's not the right place, you're not doing your job.  If you're doing your job properly as a civil servant you want to hear from the people who are paying your taxes.  You want to hear from the people who you're supposed to be supporting and taking care of."

( cc = Keep in mind Pruitt’s many secret meetings with powerful industry leaders, all the while evading and stonewalling the public and press (USA’s Fourth Estate) as much as possible.  Then there’s Pruitt’s Kremlin level passion for secrecy.  Why did he need all that secrecy? We know, so that he could vandalize the E.P.A. out of sight.  

Our environment is more than an externality!

This ME FIRST cult  proudly despises environmental protections because it cuts into profits.  Collectively they are so myopic as to believe our society lives by profits alone - never appreciating that it’s a healthy environment that provides our life support systems along with all we hold near and dear. 

E.P.A. was created to protect the common health - but now it’s been given over to a gang for whom profits are more important that people or honesty or ethics. )

Kristin Mink continues:  "So the issue here is not civility and the whole idea obviously this shouldn't even need to be said but the whole idea of talking about civility is ridiculous considering who we have as our president who has done so many things that are outside the box of civility and kindness and goodness.

It's ridiculous to even spend time on this, you know and I know that.  Representative Maxine Waters you know made some comments about this and that some people on the Left have not been supportive of her.  I think that’s ridiculous.

We should not be spending time nitpicking people who want to criticize others for simply speaking out about what they believe in and I think that it's my it's my right (and duty) as a citizenit’s my responsibility as a mother and the same thing goes for everybody else in America. …"

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