New US Environmental Chief Says Agency Can Also Be Pro-jobs

Andrew Cummings
February 22, 2017

Unlike many conservatives, he doesn't want to get rid of the EPA, but believes it can play a vital role in protecting the environment.

Though no specific information has yet been given about the supposed executive orders, two sources who attended a meeting with members of the Trump administration have revealed that they were briefed about future executive orders from the president. The possibility of significant cuts to EPA's budget or slashing the agency's 15,000-person staff to about 5,000 employees, as transition team chief Myron Ebell has suggested, threatens that (Greenwire, Jan. 26). Earlier in the month, hundreds of former staffers signed on to a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell questioning Pruitt's qualifications. As EPA administrator, he will now be responsible for enforcing those environmental regulations he tried to undo and regulate the companies he worked with.

Pruitt delivered his remarks in the agency's ornate Rachel L. Carson Great Hall, named after the scientist who authored the 1962 book Silent Spring, which kickstarted the USA environmental movement and ultimately led to the creation of the EPA eight years later.

In June 2013, Clayton Eubanks, who was then Pruitt's deputy solicitor general, asked a lobbyist at oil company Devon Energy for suggested edits to a letter Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general were planning to send to the EPA to advocate against regulating methane leaks from oil and gas drilling.

The administration release recognized Pruitt as "a national leader in the cause to restore the proper balance between the states and federal government, and established common sense regulations that are fair and provide relief where needed".

The vehicle companies say they were taken by surprise in November 2016, when EPA proposed to lock in the MY2022-2025 standards as they were, and only gave the industry until December 30 to comment.

The Trump administration reportedly refuses to comment on the matter, but this is not the first time that the administration is making questionable choices for the agency.

On Thursday, an Oklahoma County district judge ordered Pruitt to hand over thousands of emails exchanged with the energy industry to the Center for Media and Democracy watchdog group by Tuesday - the day of his EPA speech. By contrast, he did not talk much about the agency's actual goals, such as preserving clean air and clean water.

"We ought to be able to get together and wrestle through some very hard issues and do so in a civil manner", Pruitt said.

"We welcome delegation of authority, but not without financial and regulatory help, and not without the important backstop of EPA", Becker said.

'Hell to pay' if climate regs repealed?

Pruitt was confirmed to head up the EPA after a lengthy floor debate in the Senate. "And part of that process is a very careful review of a fundamental question: Does EPA even possess the tools, under the Clean Air Act, to address this?" In July 2016, the U.S. Court of Appears issued a stay on that rule and it was never promulgated.

Matt Letourneau, a spokesman for the institute, said Guith's answer "was based on a political analysis of the situation", not an official policy position.

Other reports by iNewsToday