Published on February 27th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill0
Scott Pruitt Already Planning Rollback Of EPA Authority, But Gets Graded Down By Environmental Academics
February 27th, 2017 by Joshua S Hill
The US Environmental Protection Agency’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, has already signaled plans to roll back several Obama-era policies and planned to provide businesses with “regulatory certainty” — but at the same time, his first speech has been graded a D+ or C- by environmental academics.
Scott Pruitt was only appointed head of the EPA by the Senate just over a week ago — much to the dismay and criticism of many within and without the US environmental industry, including myself — but he has already signaled that he plans to roll back at least three President Obama-era policies — including the Clean Power Plan, which aimed to curb greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation, and the Waters of the US rule, which attempted to restrict which waterways were and weren’t subject to regulation on pollution.
This is overly unsurprising, considering just 10 days ago we reported that Donald Trump was planning to begin rolling back Obama-era and perceived over-reaching EPA policies as soon as he was able to confirm his EPA head. Additionally, within days of his confirmation, Scott Pruitt moved to hamstring the Agency.
Further clarification about the immediate future of the EPA was given this past weekend when Scott Pruitt spoke at the final day of the Conservative Political Action Conference.
“The previous administration was so focused on climate change and so focused on CO2, some of those other priorities were left behind,” Pruitt said. “We as Republicans do not have anything to be apologetic about with respect to the environment. Nothing. We have always believed you can grow jobs, grow economies by being a good steward to the environment. We can do both.”
Of course, past Republican track records would suggest, therefore, that the Republicans have simply chosen not to be a “good steward to the environment” and chosen not to “do both.” Further, it would appear that Republicans have again chosen not to do both, given the policies we know that Donald Trump and co. are attempting to pursue now they are in office — especially within the administration’s first 100 days.
Nevertheless, opposition to Scott Pruitt and Donald Trump’s plans to roll back the authority of the EPA will not continue without opposition. Last week, a group of academics, social scientists, historians, and environmental researchers from the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) commented and annotated Scott Pruitt’s first speech, given to the staff at the EPA.
“The speech was notable for what it said, from the history it cited to the principles it enunciated to its choice of words,” the experts wrote in their introduction. “Most significantly the address left unsaid the legacies and obligations and thorny implications of EPA’s mission and history. The address did not mention any of the many EPA programs nor the federal laws EPA is charged with enforcing.”
“I’d give Pruitt a D+ or a C-,” said Chris Sellers, professor of history at Stony Brook University. “He showed effort, his writing was not that bad, but his research was pretty thin.”
“We have jerseys that we put on, both politically and otherwise. And that’s something that I think is damaging to the overall objective of finding results and answers to some very challenging issues that we face as a country,” Pruitt said, to which his would-be graders responded:
“Might scientific research and monitoring also have a role in addressing our current challenges? Certainly they have long been central to how EPA interprets and implements its core statutes, from rule-making to enforcement. Pruitt, however, avoids any mention of science, scientists, or research in his entire peroration.”
We’re certainly going to find out soon just what moves the new US government takes with regards to its environmental policy, one hopes that there is some way Democrats and the more moderate Republicans can express their distrust for the new direction the EPA appears to be taking.