Environment

Scott Pruitt is Blocking a Report on Contaminated Water Near Military Bases

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

According to emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is blocking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from releasing the results of a sweeping study on toxic chemicals for purely political reasons.

The Department of Health reportedly shared the results of the study on toxic chemicals with the White House and the White House enlisted the help of Scott Pruitt to block the study's release.

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” one unidentified White House aide said in an email forwarded on Jan. 30 by James Herz, a political appointee who oversees environmental issues at the OMB. The email added: “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”

More than three months later, the draft study remains unpublished, and the HHS unit says it has no scheduled date to release it for public comment.

In short, a scientific study conducted by the HHS Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) is not being released to the public because it would be political damaging.

We don't know exactly what the study says, but it reportedly shows that the level of toxic chemicals previously considered to be "safe" by the EPA is actually not safe at all.

Pruitt's chief of staff told Politico the report hasn't been released yet because it hasn't been reviewed for continuity between agencies, but I think that's a weak way of saying they're still trying to figure out how they're going to whitewash the report.

Speaking of which:

Nancy Beck, deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, suggested elevating the study to OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to coordinate an interagency review. Beck, who worked as a toxicologist in that office for 10 years, suggested it would be a "good neutral arbiter" of the dispute.

I would have considered the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to be a "good neutral arbiter" before Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney to oversee it.

Mulvaney is the man who cooks the books.

The good news is now that we know this report exists, and now that we know the White House doesn't want it released, every environmental group, the press, and possibly even local governments will be filing for its release.

  • muselet

    I know I shouldn’t be amazed, but the coldblooded calculation that this will be a “potential publc relations nightmare” is absolutely stunning.

    This is not normal.

    –alopecia

    • ninjaf

      And that that is the reason to suppress the information?!

      Republicans need to change their mascot from the elephant to the ostrich because there is nothing they aren’t willing to stick their heads in the sand and ignore if it means they stay in power one more election cycle. Never mind if all the rest of us are dead or dying.

  • ninjaf

    What about veterans groups? They should get in on it, too. Make them make “support our troops” more than just a stupid magnetic ribbon campaign for your car and political signs.

    • Aynwrong

      The “liberal media” should harass the shit out of every vets group that backed Trump over this. If they’re not furious over this then they really don’t have any moral authority do they?

      • ninjaf

        And, yet again, the Democratic party will blow the chance to beat Republicans about the head with this in the mid-terms.

        • Aynwrong

          Yup.

  • Aynwrong

    The Republican party has found a way to put the troops in harm’s way without ever needing to send a single one would overseas or even off base.

    Progress?!? ¯_(°_°)_/¯

    • ninjaf

      How can the Military Industrial Complex make money this way? DoD contractors also need to get in on the lawsuits.