Regulatory Reforms Earning Pruitt Support Amid Growing Scrutiny
Western lawmakers and industry officials have expressed their support for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s accomplishments and effectiveness in leading what they called an “instrumental” rollback of onerous regulations imposed by the previous administration.
Pruitt has recently faced intense scrutiny for his travel and security expenses, including allegations of ethics violations. The EPA’s inspector general has been asked to investigate those claims.
EPA’s press office touted Pruitt’s first-year efforts to spearhead 22 deregulatory actions that would save Americans $1 billion in compliance costs.
Ashley Burke, Senior Vice President of Communications for the National Mining Association, told Western Wire, “From our perspective, the steps that EPA has taken under this administration, and under Administrator Pruitt’s leadership, have been instrumental in restoring balance to the EPA.”
“Responsible environmental protection can occur while also engaging industry throughout the regulatory process – the two are not mutually exclusive,” Burke wrote via email. She pointed to the agency’s decision to undo the previous administration’s signature regulations as evidence.
“Look at issues such as the Clean Power Plan and the agency’s decision not to impose additional financial responsibility requirements on hard rock mining facilities – issues that would have had virtually no impact on the environment or environmental protection but were designed to have a punishing effect on industry,” Burke said. “The fact that industry no longer has an adversary in its government – and specifically at the EPA – is a huge step forward in common sense regulation.”
Burke rejected any notion that Pruitt has been ineffective.
“The fact that some of the Administrator’s actions have triggered litigation or are being ‘held up by the courts’ is a sign not of ineffectiveness – on the contrary, it is a sign that significant actions have been taken to restore the regulatory balance that has been missing in recent years,” she concluded.
Pruitt’s advocates in Congress agreed.
Members of the Congressional Western Caucus issued their support for Pruitt in a statement late last week, saying Pruitt had been targeted because of his effectiveness, not in spite of it.
“EPA Administrator Pruitt has proven himself one of the most effective Cabinet Members in the Trump Administration. His track record on energy, the environment, deregulation, the rule of law and science-based decision-making is exceptional,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Western Caucus Committee Chairman, wrote. He attacked what he described as a “lynch mob” seeking Pruitt’s removal.
EPA’s press office pointed to the implementation of Trump administration executive orders on the “Waters of the United States” review and the repeal of the Clean Power Plan.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said Pruitt’s effort to undo the previous administration’s policies would take time.
“As the head of the EPA, Administrator Pruitt is responsible for rolling back dozens of job-killing regulations put in place over the 8 years of the Obama Administration,” Mullin wrote. “By returning the EPA to its rightful role, Administration Pruitt’s policies have significantly reduced regulatory costs for taxpayers and given farmers, ranchers, and small business owners a chance to thrive again.”
Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman, also backed Pruitt’s efforts on reining in EPA oversight.
“Scott Pruitt has returned the EPA’s focus to its rightful place – on ensuring clean air and water for all Americans through policies that are based on good science, not science fiction,” Smith wrote. He pointed to Pruitt’s move to increase agency advisory board transparency.
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, wrote, “Administrator Pruitt has accomplished key priorities as head of the EPA.”
“With the support of the president, he has been instrumental in returning the agency to its original mission. American workers are benefiting from his reversal of punishing regulations. I was able to share the positive impact of these efforts with the administrator on his recent trip to Wyoming coal country,” Barrasso added. His statement distinguished Pruitt’s policy accomplishments, which he praised, from the review process of review for allegations about Pruitt’s administration of the agency.
In Politico, Michael Grunwald argues that, “The truth is that Scott Pruitt has done a lot less to dismantle the EPA than he — or his critics — would have you believe.”
“Pruitt’s problem is that major federal regulations are extremely difficult and time-consuming to enact, and just as difficult and time-consuming to reverse. The rulemaking process can take years of technical and administrative work that Pruitt and his team have not yet had time to do,” Grunwald wrote in Politico. “And even if Pruitt manages to keep his job long enough to complete that process for any of his efforts to weaken clean-air and clean-water rules, the EPA will inevitably face years of litigation over each one. The old saying that it’s easier to tear down a barn than to build one does not really apply to rules limiting pollutants like ozone, coal ash, mercury and methane.”
On Saturday, President Trump praised Pruitt’s “bold actions” at EPA, linking the increased security spending to “death threats.”
“Scott is doing a great job,” Trump Tweeted.