Portraying Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, as “balanced” – the way Maine Sen. Garrett Mason did in his Jan. 5 opinion piece, published by the Portland Press Herald – is akin to calling the scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels causes climate change “far from settled.” Of course, the latter quote comes from Pruitt himself.

Sen. Mason’s argument that Pruitt’s nomination would somehow benefit Maine’s environment or economy is as flawed as Pruitt’s rejection of the overwhelming scientific consensus on the gravest environmental threat facing our planet today.

As New England’s fishermen know, climate change already disrupts their industry with the Gulf of Maine warming faster than 99 percent of the rest of world’s oceans. A 2014 poll, by the Center for American Progress, found nearly two-thirds of New England lobstermen and groundfishermen feared that warming and acidifying oceans would force them out of business entirely. And, while Sen. Mason expresses concern for Maine’s agriculture industry, climate-driven drought has infamously parched agricultural regions in California, while here in New England, farmers just suffered through one of the driest summers on record.

Pruitt has taken over $300,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, while overseeing a fracking boom in Oklahoma that led to nearly 1,500 earthquakes in 2014 and 2015 — more than the state saw in the previous 35 years combined. He regularly sued the very agency he is now nominated to lead, seeking relaxed standards for mercury and arsenic in drinking water and soot and smog in our air.

If the environmental leadership Mainers seek includes more kids with asthma, harmful chemicals in our drinking water, and risking the future of our $300 million a year lobster industry, they should look no further than Scott Pruitt and Sen. Garrett Mason.

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