On Feb. 17, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Trump’s nominee to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, after contentious debate and on a 52-46 vote that fell largely along party lines. In the days that followed, Pruitt has given more clues about the Agency’s changing focus and direction.
In his recent remarks to EPA staff, he laid out a vision for the agency and expressed the need for the Agency to follow the “rule of law” and to bring regulatory clarity to businesses. “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. Although he did not go into detail in his remarks, he also signaled an interest in partnering with states through federalism.
At this point we are not clear on the specifics of President Trump’s plans for environmental policy, it has been widely reported in the press that Trump will issue significant new executive orders now that Pruitt is installed at EPA. At least one of these executive actions is expected to focus on climate, namely the Clean Power Plan. For his part, Pruitt made it clear during his appointment process that he plans to fulfill President Trump’s campaign promises to focus on “job-killing” regulations. One point where Pruitt has signaled bipartisanship is his vocal support for the Agency’s water and wastewater infrastructure mission. This comes on the heels of the Trump campaign’s promise to triple the funding for the State Revolving Loan Fund programs.
Pruitt is a fierce critic of the Obama Administration’s regulatory policy, and has lead the legal strategy against many of the administration’s signature environmental accomplishments. Democrats have questioned Pruitt on a range of issues from his positions on climate change and ties to the oil and gas industry, but failed to land any knockout blows. Republicans highlighted his opposition to regulatory overreach, especially large impact rules like the Clean Power Plan and definitions of Waters of the U.S. They also lauded his fight to champion the causes of farmers, ranchers, and small businesses. AGC supported his nomination and appointment and looks forward to working with Administrator Pruitt on much-needed environmental reforms with an eye to removing obstacles to meeting our nation's dire infrastructure needs.
- Administrator Pruitt also addressed how protecting the environment and growing the economy can go hand in hand. Watch video clips from the speech.
- Read a biography of Administrator Pruitt.
- Follow Administrator Pruitt on Twitter.