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Reader: We need an EPA committed to protecting our health

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Our environment determines our health, the availability of natural resources and our way of life. We need an EPA that is committed to protecting our air, water and natural resources, all of which are tied to our health. Before being appointed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt sued the agency 14 times to destroy clean air and water regulations. He wasted taxpayer money on getting his security detail to drive to hotels searching for lotion, among other ridiculous mockeries of the American taxpayer.

As an intern with Defend Our Future, a student-led environmental advocacy organization, I've seen the impact advocacy groups can make by calling out the corrupt and irresponsible behavior of Scott Pruitt that led to the unprecedented public pressure for him to resign as head of the EPA. Although Pruitt's exit was a win for Americans who want to protect our environment, we must not be complacent in accepting just any replacement.

Interim administrator Andrew Wheeler is almost a shadow of Pruitt. He is a former lobbyist for the coal industry who worked for some of the largest chemical and uranium companies in the country, another clear conflict of interest at the top of the EPA. It is imperative that the American people and Congress hold Wheeler accountable, in the same way Pruitt eventually was, to ensure he will fulfill the mission of the agency: to protect our health and safety from dirty air, water and land.

— Mikias Negussie

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