American Elephants

Scott Pruitt Is Going to Straighten Out the EPA and Return it to its Basic Task. by The Elephant's Child

Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the EPA, plans to get the EPA back to it’s basic task. The statuary mandate for the EPA is clean air and clean water, and respect for states’ rights. Mr. Pruitt’s focus is neither expanding nor reducing regulation. “There is no reason why EPA’s role should ebb or flow based on a particular administrator. Agencies exist to administer the law” he says, “Congress passes statutes, and those statutes are very clear on the job EPA has to do. We’re going to do that job.” Kim Strassel, writing at the Wall Street Journal shortly after he was confirmed, said “You might call him an EPA originalist.”

That would seem like a perfect candidate for the job. But it was one of President Trump’s most contentious nominations. Opponents objected that as Oklahoma’s attorney general Mr. Pruitt has sued the EPA at least 14 times. He was called a “climate denier,” an “oil and gas shill,” ” intent on gutting the agency” and “destroying the planet. “There were six theatrical hours of questions in his confirmation hearing and he submitted more than  1,000 written responses. (I thought gutting the agency was a fine idea.)

He said “We have made extraordinary progress on the environment over the decades, and that’s something we should celebrate. But there is real work to be done. Hitting air-quality targets for one. Under current measurements, some 40% of the country is still in nonattainment. We’ve got 1,300 Superfund sites and some of them have been on the list for more than three decades.”

“This president is a fixer, he’s an action-oriented leader, and a refocused EPA is in a great position to get results.” That’s a change in direction from his predecessor. “This past administration didn’t bother with statutes. They displaced Congress, disregarded the law, and in general said they would act in their own way. That now ends.”

Now, it’s July. Scott Pruitt plans to undo, delay or block over 30 environmental regulations. More rollbacks than any other administrator in the agency’s 47 year history. Well. You can imagine the hissy fit from all of the environmental groups in particular and the Left in general. They are still having the vapors over Mr. Trump’s formal withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement—but the Paris Agreement would make no measurable difference whatsoever in the climate, even over the next hundred years.

The Gina McCarthy EPA was engaged in a great power-grab. Whatever they wanted to do involved protecting our children, usually from asthma, a condition that doctors don’t understand well. People like the Sacketts who bought a lot in a development at Priest Lake and were building their dream home, suddenly charged with destroying a wetland and fined $35,000 a day until they restored the wetland. The Supreme Court threw that one out, but it was typical of EPA overreach. Scott Pruitt is doing a fine job and is restoring a rogue agency to its assigned task. A very good idea.

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