If former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy could rate the first year of her successor, Scott Pruitt, she'd give him a number in the negatives.
“It's not good at all," she said during an interview Tuesday with Greater Boston. "As a past EPA administrator, I think I join Republican and Democrat administrators of the past, as well, in saying he’s not even paying a bit of attention to the mission of the agency, and he’s just — he’s embarrassing."
McCarthy, who served during the Obama administration, says that beyond attacking science, Pruitt is ignoring the mission of the agency. She accused him of prioritizing the slashing of regulations to aid big business over fundamental public health issues like protecting air quality and clean water.
"When he talks about his success, all he talks about is how much he has saved business, as if allowing more pollution wouldn't cause lives to be damaged and health to be damage[d]," she said.
Pruitt has come under additional scrutiny lately after a wave of reports that he rented a condominium from the wife of an energy lobbyist for $50 a night and for flying first class on domestic flights. His actions have triggered the attention of White House ethics watchdogs and has some lawmakers calling for his resignation.
McCarthy, who directs the the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard's school of public health, told WGBH News there was no doubt there were ethical issues regarding Pruitt’s housing arrangement and traveling on tax payers' dime.
“It's even worse than that. It’s when his own team tried to explain to him that he was going beyond the pale on ethics and financing issues … he moved them,” she said, referring to reports that Pruitt allegedly demoted or transferred aides who flagged problems with his actions.
McCarthy added that she thinks Pruitt’s job isn’t in jeopardy because he’s helping to fulfill the president’s campaign promises of rolling back Obama-era regulations.
"I think [President Trump] agrees with what he's doing and saying, and he takes his lead from the top," she said. "He's behaving in a way that President Obama would never have tolerated."
To watch Gina McCarthy's entire interview, click on the video player above.