My message to Pruitt: don't kill the EPA.

ACE Fellows hold letters of solidarity written to EPA employees at the mock EPA funeral in San Francisco

On February 25, following the confirmation of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, over a hundred Bay Area residents gathered outside of the EPA headquarters. The attendees were dressed in black funeral attire and carried flowers as part of a mock funeral, demonstrating the dire consequences that Scott Pruitt's appointment would have on the agency. Five ACE Fellows and two of their friends were among the crowd. The crowd each received a postcard on which they wrote a note of solidarity to the EPA employees. Several Fellows including Eva Lin, Keliana Hui, and James Coleman, then took part in sharing their note of solidarity with the crowd over an organizer's megaphone. Over the megaphone, Lizzy shared her personal story and her outrage around Scott Pruitt's appointment. Her full speech is below:

My name is Lizzy Pyle. I am 18 years old and I'm a senior at Half Moon Bay High School. My senior year has been filled with several monumental moments, from my grade winning our school’s homecoming competition to the national election of a lifetime between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Unfortunately, the election of our newest president left me unsatisfied and angry. It also left me motivated to fight for change.

My whole life has been surrounded by nature. I live in a small coastal and agricultural town with the wonders of nature surrounding me, but I have noticed it changing before my eyes.

Hear our country, our scientists, our citizens, our farmers and our future loud and clear. Climate change is real and we will not be silenced!

Just a few years ago, in late 2007, my favorite beach to visit, Surfers Beach, became blackened by a massive oil spill. Even though the sand became gooey and black, people of all ages still beckoned to the beach on any sunny day that came. I was young and uninformed, but I still felt that something was wrong. Since that incident years ago, I have become interested in environmental policy and protection, often looking to the EPA and its actions as guidance. Now in 2017, I know better than to look to an agency for the truth. I look at the facts.

Scott Pruitt, the newest head of the EPA who was approved just days ago, is not a role model for the American people. He denies the facts, he denies the people's voices, and he denies climate change. His actions put large industry profit over the people. His history of colluding with big oil companies speaks louder than his words, which aren't that great to begin with. But don't believe me, read his emails for yourself. Unlike the alternative facts that have been fed to us by the Trump Administration, I will be glad to share with you some real facts.

If I, a high school student from a small town, can stand up and say what is right, then why should the thousands of employees for the EPA be stopped from doing the same?

Pruitt is the 14th administrator of the EPA, which is a coincidence because he has also sued the EPA 14 times. Oklahoma is one of the leading states for oil production, which would explain why Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general, has attempted to block the EPA’s Clean Power Plan four times. At least 447 former EPA employees have rallied against Pruitt’s nomination as the Head of the EPA. These current employees of the EPA are in a precarious position. They either speak up for what they believe and risk losing their jobs, which is what happened to Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce Trump's immigration ban, or they must follow the instruction of their climate denying bosses. Neither one of these options is just.

Nobody should have to live in fear of speaking their mind, especially when they are hired to protect the people. These injustices will not go unknown or unnoticed. If I, a high school student from a small town, can stand up and say what is right, then why should the thousands of employees for the EPA be stopped from doing the same? Scott Pruitt, hear me loud and clear. Hear our country, our scientists, our citizens, our farmers and our future loud and clear. Climate change is real and we will not be silenced!

Lizzy Pyle

Lizzy Pyle is a 2016-2017 Action Fellow in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attends Half Moon Bay High School.