Trump Transition

Arkansas Attorney General: Why Scott Pruitt is the right choice for the EPA

FILE -- Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.

FILE -- Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt arrives at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Before the ink dried on the press release announcing President-elect Donald Trump’s  nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), liberal special interest groups lined up to oppose the nomination.

Can anyone honestly imagine an EPA nominee by the president-elect that these groups would have supported? Once we get beyond the activist-partisan political games, it becomes clear that the president-elect’s choice is the right person at the right time—a decision I fully support.

Despite what you hear from the left side of the aisle, Republicans actually do want clean air and water.

Attorney General Pruitt, like most conservatives, wants our regulatory agencies run with common sense and not a political agenda.

In a 2013 speech, he stated unequivocally that “there is a proper role” for the EPA to regulate on “issues with respect to clean water and air that cross state lines.”

Having spent years evaluating the legality, necessity and impact of EPA regulations, he has been at the forefront of challenging the EPA when necessary. 

When the EPA acts in excess of its legal authority, and where the agency adopts unnecessary and arbitrary rules that do incredibly little to aid the environment while doing a lot to harm the economy, Attorney General Pruitt has been strong in fighting the agency which he hopes to lead.

Of the numerous regulations that the EPA published during his tenure as Attorney General of Oklahoma, he has only challenged the handful of regulations that he believed were far outside the legal parameters of the agency. It is just this type of balanced approach that Americans need steering the wheel at the EPA. 

The EPA has earned its reputation as the most lawless executive agency. Over the last eight years, it has again and again painted far outside the lines of its legal authority under statutes passed by Congress.

This type of conduct has garnered numerous rebukes from the U.S. Supreme Court and multiple lower courts, not to mention the ire of Congress and state attorneys general, like myself and Attorney General Pruitt.

It is incredibly important to the success of the EPA’s primary mission that the agency regains the bipartisan and widespread respect it once had. And this can only be accomplished by reigning in the significant and lawless excesses of the agency. Attorney General Pruitt is just the person to accomplish this feat. His knowledge of the limitations placed on the EPA by statutes and by the U.S. Constitution is exhaustive, as is his understanding of the importance of working with as opposed to against state agencies in areas of regulatory overlap.

The president-elect was sent to Washington by the American people to drain the swamp. Of all the entrenched bureaucracies in Washington, D.C., with which I have dealt, the EPA is probably the most egregious.

Its career staff is more of a satellite office of the Sierra Club and other coastal elite organizations than a fair arbiter between all citizens and all viewpoints.

For too long the EPA has had a stranglehold on our nation’s economy. The magnitude of the problem requires more than just the usual change of leadership that comes with a new administration — it requires a leader that can re-focus the agency on its core mission and steer it away from a culture of legally dubious action.

Scott Pruitt is the right person at the right time to lead the EPA.     

Leslie Rutledge is the 56th Attorney General of Arkansas. Elected on Nov. 4, 2014, she is the first woman and first Republican in Arkansas history to be elected to the office.

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