His scandals, I told him, would ultimately push him out, but his real crime was the one he was committing against children like my son, who I held in my arms
Last Monday, I was suddenly and unexpectedly given the opportunity to express my frustration with the Trump administration directly to one of its cabinet members. I saw then EPA administrator Scott Pruitt eating lunch, three tables away.
I have long been sick of this administrations favor for big business and its wealthy friends over the health and wellbeing of everyday people. Under Trumps direction, Pruitt rolled back health and safety regulations hard won over decades and put in place to protect our air, water, food, climate, national parks and more. He also made a name for himself by accumulating a truly amazing list of scandals, including paying heavily discounted rent to stay in a condo linked to an energy lobbyist whose clients were supposed to be monitored by the EPA.
The extent of Pruitts corruption was remarkable and Trumps continued support for him indefensible. But what really drove me to approach Pruitt was his crimes against humanity.
The rest of the world largely agrees that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be addressed immediately, or our children and our childrens children will pay a steep price. This reality is very inconvenient for industry tycoons who can make money right now with factories that pollute our air and water. Pruitt resolved this conflict by flat-out denying accepted science about climate change. He even sought to prevent scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the environment from sharing their research on how to protect it.
To name just a few bullet points on his laundry list of destructive deregulation, Pruitt revoked emissions requirements for oil and gas companies, refused to ban a pesticide (chlorpyrifos) known to severely harm children and ordered the EPA to rescind the Clear Water Rule, which was put in place to protect the streams that feed our drinking water.
When I saw Pruitt just a few yards away, I knew I had to tell him I knew exactly what he was doing, that America knew, and that he needed to resign.
His scandals, I told him, would ultimately push him out, but his real crime was the one he was committing against children like my son, who I held in my arms: poisoning their water and their air, hastening our fragile environment toward the point of no return, all for short-term gain for himself and his rich and powerful industry buddies.
Pruitt had no defense. Three days later, as public pressure mounted and more corruption charges were levied, he resigned.
Trump declared that Pruitt had done an outstanding job and appointed a former coal lobbyist to replace him who will continue with the exact same special-interests agenda. Washington insider Andrew Wheeler doesnt come with cartoonish, media-ready scandals. He may well hope to fly under the radar while carrying out the same atrocious mission within the EPA, on behalf of his powerful friends.
That is why each of us needs to stand up and speak out for ourselves, our children and future generations, before its too late. Now is the time for us to individually and collectively have our voices heard.
Last year, 50 Republicans and two Democrats voted to approve Scott Pruitt, a man who sued the EPA for its efforts to protect the environment, to head the agency. They need to know that come the November midterms, we will vote out every one who does not have the backbone to stand up for us and our children.
I have heard from hundreds of people who have told me that they could not have done what I did. They could not approach a public servant and speak their mind. To them I say, I didnt know I could do it either.
I was afraid Id lose my nerve. I came with notes Id scribbled on the back of my receipt because I was afraid my mind would go blank. But my desperate need to do what I can to protect my child, the next generation, our future, made me march up to Pruitt despite my fear.
There comes a time when I cant needs to be replaced with I must. We have reached that time.