EPA Chief Pledges To Work ‘Hand-In-Hand With Local Leaders’ In The West
Kicking off a multi-state tour in Utah earlier this week, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt met with state and local leaders on issues within the agency’s purview, including water and air regulations.
Pruitt, joined by state officials including Gov. Gary Herbert (R), Attorney General Sean Reyes and Department of Environmental Quality Director Alan Matheson, held talks with local stakeholders from Utah’s water conservation, farming, mineral and energy sectors. Topics of discussion included the rollback of the Waters of the United States rule, which EPA rescinded in early July at the direction of a February executive order. The rule, drafted and implemented by the Obama administration in 2015, had expanded the federal government’s jurisdiction over water.
“EPA is committed to re-evaluating the definition of a ‘Water of the United States’ while respecting traditional state and local powers,” Pruitt said in Utah on Tuesday.
“When you define waters of the United States to include dry creek beds, drainage ditches and puddles — and that is not really an editorial comment — that impacts literally how you use your land all over the country,” he continued. “What I hear consistently is that we need regulatory certainty.”
“By working hand-in-hand with local leaders, we can help keep waters pollution-free, while also promoting economic growth and minimizing regulatory burdens for farmers, ranchers, and property owners,” said.
Utah Farm Bureau President Ron Gibson met with Pruitt on Tuesday and applauded the WOTUS repeal.
“The flawed WOTUS rule created uncertainty for farmers and ranchers across the country, allowing federal agencies to micromanage farming practices and impose unworkable regulations,” Gibson said.
While in Utah, Pruitt also announced plans to revisit an Obama Administration rule that required new pollution controls to reduce haze observed at nearby national parks. The EPA will be giving state officials the power to address the issue, and “to craft that plan to achieve good air quality standards and let them lead as opposed to the U.S. government trying to coerce or force that upon the state of Utah,” Pruitt said.
“The state of Utah has been asking the EPA to allow it the opportunity to craft a new plan to deal with how they’re going to achieve, the state of Utah, better outcomes with air quality and regional haze,” Pruitt said, “and the previous administration did not grant that, the previous administration was not responsive to Utah in that regard.”
“I think that what’s key here is that the voice of Utah, the voice of citizens in Utah, the Governor, the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality], his office, the Department of Natural Resources, all those folks that make up that plan,” Pruitt said.