Did Trump Blow It on His Choice of Scott Pruitt to Head the EPA?

By Fred Lucas, 1-18-17, at the Daily Signal:

scott-pruitt

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency explained how he would make cooperating with the states a priority of the department during a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill.

Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, stressed “cooperative federalism” would be his guiding philosophy in running the EPA, meaning he wants the often controversial agency to work with states.

“Cooperative federalism is at the heart of many of the environmental statutes that have been passed by this body,” Pruitt told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “The reason for that is that it’s the states, many times, that have the resources, the expertise, and understanding what the unique challenges are for the environment in improving our water and our air.”

As his state’s attorney general, Pruitt led more than a dozen lawsuits against the EPA—which he defended as not being opposed to environmental regulations, but opposing legal overreach by the agency.

“We need a partnership, a true partnership, between the EPA performing its role, along with the states in performing theirs,” Pruitt said. “If we had that partnership as opposed to punishment, as opposed to uncertainty and duress that we currently see in the marketplace, I think we’ll have better air, better water quality as a result.”

Democrats on the Senate committee criticized Pruitt for suing to block certain EPA regulations, such as the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said his state has “bad air days” when people are informed to stay inside because of out-of-state smokestacks that pollute the air.

“Because those smokestacks are out of state we need EPA to protect us and I see nothing in your record that would give a mom taking her child to the hospital for an asthma attack any comfort that you would take the slightest interest in her,” Whitehouse said. “Your passion for devolving power down to states doesn’t help us because our state regulators can’t do anything about any of those problems. They all come from out-of-state sources.”

Pruitt said he wanted the EPA to adhere to its statutory authority from Congress.

I believe there are air quality issues and water quality issues that cross state lines that the jurisdiction of the EPA, its involvement in protecting our air quality and improving our nation’s waters is extremely important. The EPA has served a very valuable role historically. After all, it was Republicans who created the EPA under an executive order in the 1970s and this body has passed many pieces of legislation since the 1970s to focus on improving our air and improving our water quality.

In response to a question from Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Pruitt asserted, “I do not believe that climate change is a hoax.”

Pruitt, in his opening remarks, said the debate about the degree of human impact on climate change is open for dialogue.

“We should encourage open and civil discourse. One such issue where discourse is absent involves climate change,” Pruitt said.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., accused Pruitt of only being worried about financial costs of regulations.

“I need you to care about human health and really believe that the cost when people are dying is far higher than it is to the cost of that polluter to clean up the air,” Gillibrand said.

However, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, talked about what a threat the EPA can be to American citizens.

“What I hear without fail at these town halls is that folks are frustrated with the EPA and the gotcha mentality that is stemmed from the agency,” Ernst said. “My constituents tell me that the EPA is out to get them rather than work with them. There is a huge lack of trust between my constituents and the EPA.”

Pruitt responded it does not have to be this way.

“This paradigm that we live within today that if you’re pro-energy, you’re anti-environment or if you’re pro-environment, you’re anti-energy is a false narrative,” Pruitt said. “We can do better than that. In fact, this country has shown for decades that we can grow our economy and be a good steward of our air, land, and water.”

Environmental Protection Agency logo.svg

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I agree that we can be both pro-energy and pro-environment, but the very idea that he believes climate change is real and we need more discussions (3+ decades of them wasn’t enough?), tells me he’s likely the wrong guy for the job. ‘Cooperative federalism’ sounds like another government-created phrase that really means the states need to cooperate with the feds.

He mentioned nothing about eliminating any of the gazillion ridiculous and overburdensome regulations the EPA generates every year, nor does he mention cutting back the size of the department, which stands at over 15,000 employees. Neither did he mention their annual budget which is over $8 billion.

Trump’s made some good choices, but it looks like he blew it with this guy.

~Kathy



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7 replies

  1. Pruitt’s history and Trump’s public attacks on the regulatory burdens make me think otherwise, Kathy. I think this is the start of the rollback of the EPA.

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    • I hope you’re right and that he will dial back many of the needless regulations, but I’m still skeptical. After decades of discussions on man’s effects on climate change, he still says the ‘debate is far from being settled.’ This sounds to me like a guy who can’t decide which team he wants to play on.

      When people toss around phrases like cooperative federalism – a phrase that could encompass many unknowns – it’s worrisome. I guess we’ll just have to see how this plays out.

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  2. Climate change is real, and has been real since the Earth came into existence. Man MAY have a slight influence, but a single volcanic eruption causes more pollution and carbon output than any decade of man’s efforts.

    If man’s pollution caused global warming, the warmest years on record would have been 1942-1948, from the effects of World War 2.

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  3. Yeah, Kathy, “cooperative federalism” kind of leaves me scratching my head as well. How does that work, exactly? Follow our guidelines, and we won’t punish you? If that’s how it works then “cooperative federalism” is just another name for obeying the law.

    This was always the danger with Trump because he’s not a principled conservative. He doesn’t think of these issues in terms of how they relate back to the Constitution and how the existence of a federal government is an irresistible temptation for those who seek to control their fellow citizens

    Instead of just accepting the status quo and pledging to be less heavy-handed than Democrats, a principled conservative would first ask if there is a constitutional mandate for an agency like the EPA and, if the answer is “yes,” it should seek to restore the agency to its original scope and purpose under the law.

    I too was disturbed to hear Pruitt say climate change is real and not a hoax, without qualification. I didn’t watch his hearings but I would hope Republicans would have followed that up with some more targeted questions such as:

    • Do you believe the climate is always changing, irrespective of the actions of man?

    • Do you believe there is definitive proof to suggest that man is solely or even largely responsible for any recent changes in climate activity? If so, please identify that proof.

    • Are you aware that the claims of “97% consensus in the scientific community”are false?

    • Would you agree that there are those who are pushing the climate change narrative for the purpose of justifying greater government control and advancing globalism?

    • Do you agree that the purpose and scope of the EPA is limited, is defined by congress alone, and that it is not the EPA’s role to take a position on climate change or to use the agency for any objective relating to climate change?

    This goes back to what you were saying about Paul Ryan and House Republicans yesterday. Senate Republicans also need to remember why they were elected, and that just because Trump has an “R” after his name now doesn’t mean they are excused from doing what the people sent them to do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cooperative federalism is supposed to equalize the power at all three levels, federal, state and local, but when the feds refuse to cooperate, it leaves the other two levels at a loss and usually stuck with the expense. There are many examples, but one case in point is the contamination of the Las Animas river in Colorado.

      During the campaign, Trump disagreed with Hillary that climate change was caused by humans, so if he intends to stick by that, it seems he would have chosen an EPA director who agreed with him. Meanwhile, reports have stated that Trump’s daughter Ivanka supports man-made climate change, so one has to wonder if there’s a bit of influence in that area and if it will become another issue he’s changed his mind on.

      I could have missed it, but I don’t recall hearing the Constitution being mentioned in the confirmation hearings for any of the nominees. It’s disgusting that it’s becoming a relic rather than the go-to document for all decisions.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pruitt asserted, “I do not believe that climate change is a hoax.”

    Well, climate change is not a hoax. It’s constantly in flux. Could be he tempered his statement here meaning this OR he did mean to say the current definition of climate change is not a hoax. I dunno.
    I’ll wait and watch.

    Gotta believe the agencies, ALL the agencies will be cut with Trump’s statement that they will cutregulations and personnel by 10-20%. I LOVE that one. And read he will cut regulations by 70%!. Already had a hiring freeze which the dems are screaming about.

    I’ll give Pruitt a chance although I’d love to see this agency gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, the climate changes constantly, but in my view the hoax is the idea that it’s mankind’s fault. It’s been turned into a giant Ponzi scheme to extract billions of dollars in taxpayer funds and donations, yet it changes nothing.

      It’s good that Trump intends to cut regulations and personnel, but in my view that should be one of the primary objectives for each and every cabinet member he’s chosen.

      Much like the Dept of Energy, the EPA could be gone and nobody would miss them. They had a good purpose in the beginning, but they’ve gotten power-happy and gone to extremes with their plethora of regulations.

      Liked by 2 people

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