Pruitt's Monster Coal Jobs Lie Is Just the Latest Deception

He's really dug himself into a hole on this one.

Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and noted climate change denier, is a pants-on-fire liar.

“Since the fourth quarter of last year until most recently, we’ve added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs,” Pruitt said Sunday on Meet the Press.

That’s not true: Pruitt is quoting jobs numbers from the mining industry overall.

In fact, the coal industry employs only about 50,000 people in total — fewer jobs than at Disneyland.

The breakdown comes to about 1,000 new jobs in the coal industry since last October. But none of these can be attributed to the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, or his recent announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change. The slight upward tick in coal jobs began before Trump’s election, and has continued apace. Industry analysts expect that it’s a blip in the inevitable long-term trend — a shrinking industry that just can’t compete with natural gas, wind, and solar.

The charitable might point out that in other interviews that same day, Pruitt used the same talking points but was careful to mention the broader mining industry, so that his statement would not be straight-up false. His later omission, however, which turned a crafted misdirection into a bald-faced lie, belies his intention to deceive.

This deceptiveness has become a trend for Pruitt.

He is currently under investigation by the Oklahoma Bar Association for telling the Senate at his confirmation hearing that he never used his private email address for official business. That statement is verifiably untrue. And the consequence is material — Pruitt’s personal emails are part of larger revelations that his office collaborated closely with lobbyists for oil and gas industries.

The more recent coal jobs lie is part of a bigger lie — that the Paris Agreement is an unfair deal for Americans that ships coal jobs overseas. “China and India had no obligations under the agreement until 2030. We front-loaded all of our costs,” he said in April.

It’s not true that the Paris deal lets China and India off the hook on global warming action until 2030. That’s the year when China says its emissions will peak and begin to fall, and it represents an ambitious goal that will require a great deal of commitment and effort to achieve.

It’s believable that Trump simply has no clue what he’s talking about when it comes to climate change and the Paris Agreement. But Pruitt knows better.

The truth is that pulling out of international and domestic action on climate change won’t save coal, but it will help a small number of rich CEOs milk the industry just a little longer — at the cost of the planet.

Related Tags