EPA Chief’s Magical Thinking: Push Energy Production and Protect the Planet

EPA Chief’s Magical Thinking: Push Energy Production and Protect the Planet


The Trump administration offered a foretaste of its environmental policy with a speech on Tuesday by Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Pruitt vowed to do as much to promote energy production and job creation as he would to protect against climate change.

Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry who made a career of challenging EPA’s clean air and water regulations, spelled out his management philosophy during his first speech to the agency’s15,000 employees.

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“I believe that we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs, and pro-environment, that we don’t have to choose between the two,” Pruitt said during a relatively brief speech from EPA’s headquarters.

“I think our nation has been better than any nation in the world at making sure that we do the job of protecting natural resources and protecting our environment, while also respecting the economic growth and jobs our nation seeks to have,” he said.

Pruitt, 48, used his position as state attorney general to sue the EPA at least 14 times – frequently in tandem with major fossil fuel companies that supported his elections. He is widely viewed as the chief architect of the assault against former President Barack Obama’s climate change policies that were aimed at sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s aging power plants.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that President Trump is preparing executive orders designed to curtail Obama-era policies on climate change and water pollution.

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One of the orders will instruct the EPA to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse gas emissions from existing, coal-fired electric utilities. It also would order the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management to cancel a moratorium on federal coal leasing.

The other order will instruct the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revamp the 2015 Waters of the United States rule that applies to 60 percent of the water bodies in the country. That regulation – which was issued under the 1972 Clean Water Act – gives the federal government authority over wetlands, rivers and streams as well as major water bodies, according to The Post.

Pruitt didn’t go into any details of the administration’s planned policy shift. Instead, he outlined the principles that will guide his tenure at the EPA, such as altering the regulatory process, adhering more closely to congressional mandates and deferring more to the states in enforcing environmental laws and regulations.

“Regulations ought to make things regular,” Pruitt said. “Regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate. Those that we regulate ought to know what’s expected of them, so they can plan, and allocate resources to comply.”