Food & Water Watch campaign locally against Trump EPA nominee


Rachel Looker, Editor-in-Chief

A Food & Water Watch petition in opposition to Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s nominee for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been making the rounds at Marywood this week.

Food & Water Watch is a national organization that champions for healthy food and clean water.

Pruitt currently serves as the Attorney General of Oklahoma and has a history of repealing climate change rules, closing regional EPA offices and weakening the agency’s authority, according to The New York Times.

According to Stephanie Miles, a local organizer from Food & Water Watch, the organization has been involved nationally and throughout Pennsylvania, focusing on clean water bills and sustainable agriculture. The group started a campaign against Pruitt when his nomination was announced by then President-elect Trump in December 2016. The petition is part of that campaign.

Miles said she believes Pruitt cannot protect the EPA because he does not believe in climate science.

“He has sued the EPA 14 times, so he has pretty much fought the EPA every step of the way,” said Miles.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed Pruitt’s nomination. The Republican chairman of the committee suspended rules to allow Pruitt to pass with only Republican votes. His appointment still needs to be confirmed by the full Senate.

Part of Food & Water Watch’s campaign has been to persuade Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey to reject the appointment of Pruitt, according to Miles.

“[We] definitely want to thank Casey because he is taking a strong stance in coming out publicly and saying he is going to vote no,” said Miles. “We want him to get other Democrats on board to also publicly state their opposition and then delay the vote on the [Senate] floor as much as possible.”

Sean McDonough, a social work major at Marywood and volunteer with the campaign along with Miles, said this decision regarding Pruitt’s nomination is about protecting future generations. He cites the progress made in the last eight years protecting food, water, air and regulating industry.

“Our current administration has gone after [the progress] with a sledgehammer,” said McDonough. “We need to act on that. I feel like this is the first logical step to block Scott Pruitt. He is the antithesis of what would be good for environmental protection.”

McDonough added that he believes our country needs politicians who will enforce corporate responsibility against possible environmental threats.

Regardless of the outcome of the final vote, Miles said the second phase of the campaign is to make sure Sen. Casey protects the basic environmental laws in Pennsylvania. The campaign against Pruitt is currently at 500 signatures, and Miles said she feels the campaign has received a huge amount of support from the local community.

McDonough said he believes petitioning against Pruitt is an opportunity for the youth in the country to join a movement of people are trying to do good for everyone.

“This can be a rallying point,” said McDonough. “This can be something that we stand together and agree on that this is what’s good for everyone.”

Food & Water Watch is holding a Photo Petition Day of Action on Thursday, Feb. 9 on the corner of Jefferson and Linden in downtown Scranton to thank Sen. Casey for opposing Pruitt’s appointment and increase the visibility of the issue.

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Twitter: @RLookerTWW