Scott Pruitt is out as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, but his legacy remains. Pruitt’s scandal-plagued leadership has not only weakened environmental protections, but it changed the roles of conservation groups, which are reprioritizing and spending more time in court to fight for clean air and water.
From the beginning, it was clear that Pruitt was no friend of the environment. He encouraged the president to repeal the Paris accords, proposed lowering vehicle emissions standards for cars and trucks, and doubted the consensus claims that human actions are causing global warming. “We are now in our 126th year, and we have never seen anything like this,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club has been at the forefront of the fight against Pruitt by running a campaign to #BootPruitt, frequently suing the EPA, and making its emails public as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.
In response to Pruitt’s efforts, the Sierra Club hired more litigators, and “we’re filing a lawsuit just about every week to 10 days,” says Brune. It’s focusing more on the local level, too, like partnering with cities to transition to clean energy or working with utility companies to add more storage capacity to the grid. The Sierra Club initiated these projects before the Trump administration but focused on them more after the election. “The federal fight was going to be tough, and so we saw an opportunity to make significant progress locally,” Brune adds.
Funding is up, too. In the…