Former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who served under the Bush administration, told CNN this week that Pruitt's decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan has put us "in grave danger."
In the past, Whitman has openly criticized Scott Pruitt's leadership. The former administrator even went so far as to publish a scathing op-ed about the current direction of the EPA, arguing Pruitt's actions "pose real and lasting threats to the nation's land, air, water and public health."
This week, Whitman was invited to speak with CNN about Pruitt's most recent decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which is an Obama-era program that was introduced to reduce carbon emissions.
When asked whether or not this means CPP is officially repealed, Whitman replied, "No, and that's the good news of all of this. It takes a long time."
Whitman explained that on order to fully repeal CPP, the EPA has to propose an opposing rule, justify why the science behind the original rule is not longer relevant and then answer a flurry of questions and amendments.
"And, of course, this is going to be in court for a long time," Whitman added.
Until this process is completed, the EPA is still legally obligated under the Endangerment Finding to reduce carbon emissions. But Whitman worries that the repeal will slow down the implementation and enforcement of environmental regulations already in place, putting the health and well-being of American citizens at risk.
"There are 200,000 deaths in the United States every year from dirty airborne-related causes. All of these things are what EPA is designed to try to prevent, and what are being rolled back and putting us in grave danger," said Whitman.
This week, when Pruitt announced the repeal of CPP, he declared, "the war on coal is over." But Whitman is skeptical the repeal of CPP will actually revive the coal industry.
"Coal is dying not because of environmental regulations but because of the low cost of natural gas," she explained.
"And so to say that you are going to bring back coal…is just wrong. It's not going to happen. The companies are already moving on. They are creating jobs in other areas and they are moving away from coal."
Instead, Whitman argues that the repeal would do nothing less than make it easier for coal companies to pollute the nation's air and water.
"Those kind of moves are not going to bring back coal," Whitman added.
"It's a bait and switch, and I think its very dangerous for the future."
When asked what she would be doing if she was in Pruitt's place, Whitman said she would definitely be looking at implementing something similar to CPP.
"Because [CPP] was, in fact, one of the most open regulations the agency has ever done in that it allowed states to reach the goals that were set in whatever way best worked for their economy," she said.
"We are not going to get anything, frankly, better than this."