Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at FAIR.org. Republished by permission.

Scott Pruitt sure is busy these days. The climate change-denying head of the Environmental Protection Agency has been renting out a Washington condo on the cheap from an energy lobbyist; installing a $43,000 soundproof booth for his telephone calls; passing out improper pay raises to aides; jet-setting around the world on first-class flights; hitting up Disneyland and the Rose Bowl with his oversized $3 million, 20-person security detail; receiving police escorts to trendy D.C. restaurant Le Diplomate; and even having a fancy dinner in Rome with Vatican treasurer, climate denier and recently charged child sexual abuser George Pell.

What’s more, Pruitt’s staffers at the EPA have continued to cover up for their boss: Pruitt’s lavish travel schedule is only released after the fact, and he holds few press conferences compared to his predecessors. All told, he is under 12 different federal investigations, and has been grilled by members of both Senate and House committees. In Pruitt’s Senate hearing, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., remarked, “Your scandals are a mere sideshow distracting us from the long-lasting devastation your leadership is making on human health and the environment.”

Indeed, while Pruitt seems to have adjusted well to the culture of gratuitous and unprecedented graft and corruption inside the Trump cabinet, the media’s focus on Pruitt’s dizzying array of personal scandals obscures his absolute contempt for his agency’s stated mission: environmental protection. Pruitt, along with President Trump, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, has quietly been dismantling a multitude of environmental regulations while pushing a number of fossil fuel-friendly policies that will certainly have disastrous long-term effects on the environment and public health.

Just to name a few so far:

  • In 2017, Trump announced he would pull the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate accords by 2020, removing the country from critical — though far from adequate — international commitments.
  • The EPA announced a future rollback of fuel efficiency regulations for automakers set by the Obama administration in 2012, which will have negative effects on air pollution. California, along with 12 other states, has challenged the EPA in court.
  • The Trump administration approved the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline, in defiance of Native American and climate activists who have protested the pipeline construction for several years at Standing Rock, North Dakota.
  • The Trump administration lifted the Obama-era ban on offshore oil drilling on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, excepting only the state of Florida, the home of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and three of his golf courses. Such drilling creates the potential for ecological disaster.
  • The EPA lowered emissions-reporting requirements for factories and industrial plants, increasing chances of widespread exposure to toxic air pollution.
  • The Trump administration and the Department of the Interior announced reductions to a number of national monuments to facilitate land privatization efforts in the name of drilling for oil and natural gas.
  • Through the Republican tax bill, the Trump administration and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, lifted the decades-long ban on oil exploration and drilling in the Alaskan Northern Wildlife Refuge, threatening local fauna and the lifestyle of local indigenous people.
  • The Interior Department lifted a moratorium on federal leases for coal mining, perhaps the dirtiest of all energy sources.
  • Pruitt blocked EPA grant recipients from serving on the agency’s science advisory boards, making it easier for fossil fuel lobbyists to steer EPA policy.

This is only a tiny slice of what the Trump administration has been able to do so far, and most of the administration’s actions no doubt come as a result of the cozy relationship between the fossil fuel industry and the Trump cabinet.

Yet if you rely on cable news or reading the front page of any mainstream newspaper, you might be forgiven for thinking that Pruitt’s personal indulgences were more important than his policies’ impact on the planet. In the past six months, CNN ran 96 pieces on Pruitt, but only 17 of them mentioned climate change, for example, at all. Of the 129 segments MSNBC ran on Pruitt in the past six months, only 30 of them mentioned climate change. The New York Times devoted 49 articles on Scott Pruitt’s scandals in the past six months, but only 12 of those articles made a point of mentioning the specific effects of Pruitt’s EPA on climate change and the environment. Of those articles, only four explicitly noted the negative impact of Pruitt’s climate change agenda or dove into detail about its effects.

NYT: For Scott Pruitt, a Spotlight Shines on His Ethics, Not His E.P.A. Rollbacks

Even when corporate media have stepped back and questioned the emphasis on Pruitt’s individual misbehavior, the analysis still manages to focus on what this means for Pruitt personally, rather than for human health and ecological well-being.  The New York Times’ Coral Davenport wrote that Pruitt’s ethical transgressions obscured his environmental policy agenda — but framed this as a personal and political misfortune for Pruitt, not a threat to the environment. “A plan to weaken President Barack Obama’s stringent rules on planet-warming tailpipe emissions,” she reported, “should have been Scott Pruitt’s finest moment,” leaving him “basking in glory” — almost as if we should be rooting for Pruitt to successfully increase global temperatures.

Stuart Shapiro in USA Today took a contrary line, complaining that “EPA Scandals Overshadow Scott Pruitt Failure to Undo Obama Environmental Regulations.” Shapiro, a professor of public policy at Rutgers, argued that Pruitt’s “deregulatory efforts to date have failed, and his plans for future repeals of regulations are likely to meet the same fate.” His point that  “repealing a regulation is hard” is worth bearing in mind, but the focus is on whether Pruitt’s “accomplishments” are genuine and whether he deserves the “praise” he has gotten from Trump — not on how the success or failure of Pruitt’s efforts will impact the environment.

Major news outlets need to pay attention to political scandals, whether Pruitt’s blatant corruption or Trump’s wild outburst of the day, but their singular focus on such stories obscures the devastation that environmental degradation will impose in the coming years, and the need for climate action as early as yesterday. It is no exaggeration to say that climate change could be the most challenging crisis in the history of humanity. Viewers and readers need to be inundated with information on how the Trump administration is setting climate action back, and the current and future negative effects of climate change, including sea level risetemperature rise, destruction of plant and animal life, public health concerns like famines and diseases, increased instances of droughtwildfirestorms and flooding and effects on war, migration and refugee crises, among many, many others.

While many of the varied scandals plaguing poor Scott Pruitt are intertwined with his comfy relationship with fossil-fuel special interests, that should only make it easier for media outlets to connect the profit-seeking motives of extractive industries with the complicity of the federal government in willful ignorance on climate change.

Yet it might be near the end of the line for Pruitt; White House aides have decried his scandals as embarrassing and called for his firing. Pruitt’s successor will no doubt likewise be an ally of the fossil fuel industry, and might not be as nakedly corrupt. Bringing more sunlight onto climate issues now is necessary for setting a precedent for environmentally focused coverage in the future.

COUNTY JAIL DOCKET (The following people were booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail on felony charges yet to be proven in court.): Christopher Sims, 45, Daytona Beach, tampering with electronic monitoring device, grand theft; Jeremy D. Maddox, 35, Holly Hill, court violation (4); Danielle M. Duguay, 40, Daytona Beach, racketeering violation, conspiracy to commit racketeering, principal dealing in stolen property, grand theft; Daniel J. Conway, 48, South Daytona , racketeering violation, conspiracy to commit racketeering, dealing in stolen property (2), grand theft, possession of paraphernalia; Paul R. Paradis, 55, Vero Beach, racketeering violation, conspiracy to commit racketeering, dealing in stolen property (3), grand theft (6); Amelia C. Lapallo, 24, Port Orange, racketeering violation, conspiracy to commit racketeering, dealing in stolen property (7), principal grand theft (2); Richard G. Hill, 51, Port Orange, racketeering violation, conspiracy to commit racketeering, dealing in stolen property (4); Charvikka L. Wiley, 27, Holly Hill, court violation; William R. Thorne, 52, Edgewater, possession of sexual performance by a child enhanced (30); Karen C. Degenaro, 41, Holly Hill, failure to appear (2), petty theft of a merchant; Elvis Y. Alvarez, 37, DeLand, court violation; Jaquis T. Davis, 22, Ormond Beach, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, no valid driver’s license; Jorge A. Duron, 21, Pierson, court violation; Jennifer J. Connors, 38, Ormond Beach, failure to appear (4); Krystyn K. Prewitt, 29, Deltona, possession of cocaine, possession of paraphernalia; Krystal M. Stacey, 31, Ormond Beach, court violation (4); Bryanna R. Daley, 27, DeLand, possession of cocaine; Richard N. Lajoie, 45, DeLand, court violation; Marvin Forbes, 46, Kississee, failure to appear; Jazz M. Daniels, 31, Bartow, violation of community control; Marianne Albert, 60, Ormond Beach, grand theft more than $300 but less than $5,000, obtaining property by fraud less than $20,000; Raymond M. Jones, 26, Daytona Beach, grand theft more than $300 but less than $5,000, grand theft, dealing in stolen property (2), false owner information used to pawn items less than $300; Michelle E. Gross, 37, Deltona, driving with driver’s license canceled, suspended or revoked; Michael L. Rauscher, 40, Daytona Beach, domestic battery by strangulation, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, tampering with a witness; Ledarius D. Herbert, 35, Daytona Beach, court violation, trespassing on property other than a structure or conveyance; William J. Caldwell, 31, Daytona Beach, corruption by threat against public official, open container of alcohol in public place; Charles Elder, 48, New Smyrna, career offender failure to register or provide information, failure to appear (3); William R. Stroud, 27, Orange City, burglary of an unoccupied structure, dealing in stolen property (3); Michael W. Camden, 29, Deltona, burglary of an unoccupied conveyance, sale or possession with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a child care facility or school, failure to appear; Calvin B. Blake, 52, Daytona Beach, burglary of a structure or conveyance (2); Jennifer Rodriguez, 29, New Smyrna, battery, possession of cocaine; Kevin J. Williams, 39, Daytona Beach, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

SUITS: Miguels Auto Repairs LLC v. Jeffrey Dan Cassell, enforcement of sale; Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Della J. Bourke, real property; Perry A. Byrd v. Erick A. Cox, premises liability commercial; Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Michael Stitley, real property; US Bank Trust NA v. Chad Schohl, real property; HSBC Bank USA NA v. Rafael Wilson Jr., real property; Roberto Compuzano v. American Integrity Insurance Co., insurance claim; Cit Bank NA v. Unknown Heirs Devisees Etc. of Doris E. Bratton, real property; Cit Bank NA v. Germaine Vogle, real property; United States of America v. Dawn L. Wilcox, real property; Riverside Condominium Association of DeBary v. Gerald Shaffer Jr., real property; Riverside Condominium Association of DeBary v. Matthew J. Wren, real property; TD Bank NA v. Craig Smith, in excess of $15,000; Patrick Walston v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co., insurance claim; Bayberry Lakes Homeowners Association Inc. v. Valerie A. Buchanan, real property; Karen Miller v. Security First Insurance Co., insurance claim; Selene Finance LP v. Chad Michael Johnson, real property; Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB v. All Unknown Heirs Ets. of Danice Englehardt, real property; Cavalry SPV I LLC v. Thomas A. Libby, in excess of $15,000; Allen Blair Espy v. Bruce Gian Poli, auto negligence; Hertz Corp. v. Darrell Lake, auto negligence; Americredit Financial Services Inc. v. David Bailey, other; Universal Property & Casualty Insurance v. Sohail Kakezai, in excess of $15,000.

MARRIAGES: Kristi J. Conklin, South Daytona, and Michael J. Ousterman Sr., Port Orange; Bill Rukan and Raina C. Mayer, Daytona Beach; Mary L. Pearsall, South Daytona, and Robert A. Fretter, Kenton, Michigan; Faith R. Lawson and Stephen P. Devito, Port Orange; George A. Gail Bowman, New Smyrna Beach, and Robert A. Aberle, Edgewater; Stefanie N. Dietrich and Joseph A. Stark, Daytona Beach; Evin M. Rubio and Solliett M. Cortez-Rubio, Deltona; Lisa M. Altieri, Orange City, and Zi Qi Huang, Toronto, Canada; Ayrrion L. Turner and Frankie B. Thompson, Daytona Beach.

MARRIAGE DISSOLUTIONS STARTED: Evan v. Erin Jones; Troy N. v. Dana L. Theisen; Thomas A. v. Melanie S. Sumner Main; Federick Gonzalez v. Maria F. Lopez Vaja.

MARRIAGE DISSOLUTIONS GRANTED: Elsa and Jesse ONeill; Thomac C. Jr. and Beverly M. Kelley.


RODRIGUEZ-JEFFREY: Edwins and Nicole Rodriguez-Jeffrey, Holly Hill, are the parents of a son weighing 7 pounds, 4 ounces, born at 7:42 a.m., on May 24, 2018, at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, Daytona Beach.

YELVINGTON: Tyler and Katie Yelvington, Deltona, are the parents of a son weighing 8 pounds, 10 ounces, born at 6:05 p.m., on May 22, 2018, at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center, Daytona Beach.