Trump Transition

Sen. Barrasso: For 8 years the EPA has made life hard for too many Americans. That’s about to change

FILE -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks during a town hall meeting at the University of Ottawa.

FILE -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy speaks during a town hall meeting at the University of Ottawa.  (Justin Tang /The Canadian Press via AP)

Seventy-five thousand dollars per day. That’s how much the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to fine a private land owner in my home state of Wyoming. The crime: digging a pond in his back yard.

This was an appalling overreach by the Obama administration’s EPA and its regulation of American’s property.

Sadly, this story is not unique.

For the past eight years, the EPA has abused and attacked far too many hard-working American families.

A regulatory rampage by EPA has led to the loss of thousands of coal mining jobs in Wyoming, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. 

Wisconsin is poised to lose more than 20,000 jobs in the next decade because of the Obama administration’s proposed regulations on carbon emissions.

The misguided obsession of the EPA has created needless economic burdens for Americans. It has, at the same time, put people’s health in danger.

Negligence on the part of the EPA resulted in more than 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater being dumped into a river at the Gold King Mine in Colorado.

The plume of toxic liquid flowed downstream to New Mexico and polluted the Navajo Nation’s main source of drinking and irrigation water.

In Flint, Michigan, aging pipes and improperly treated water caused lead poisoning in children. When EPA officials learned of the pending disaster, they failed to respond.

The agency's misplaced priorities are harming state governments as well.

North Dakota stands to lose more than $100 million in tax revenue over the next four years because of the Obama administration’s “clean power plan” regulations. The state will have to look to already-strapped families to make up the difference or else cut back on services.

Disregard for the consequences of its actions has become the trademark of the EPA for the last eight years. Policy goals and talking points have consistently taken priority over American families. This cannot be the case any longer.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, I look forward to ushering in wholesale change at the EPA. I will be doing it alongside a committed and capable administrator.

President-elect Trump has named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA and to overhaul the agency. Attorney General Pruitt has seen the effects of over regulation in his own state and has worked to stop them.

Pruitt has distinguished himself by challenging the Obama administration on several of its most burdensome rules. He stood up for Oklahomans against the EPA’s extreme regulations on greenhouse gasses, methane emissions, and cross state air pollution. He took action against unworkable water rules and air standards. He sued the federal government to make sure that it was interpreting the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts as Congress actually wrote them, not how it benefited President Obama’s political agenda.

Attorney General Pruitt is respected by his peers for the work he has done. His work in Oklahoma protected the environment and strengthened the economy by standing up for states’ rights. Attorneys general from 24 states authored a letter in support of his nomination. They know he can and will rein in Washington.

President-elect Trump has vowed that his administration will overturn two federal regulations for every new one it proposes. The administrator of EPA will play a vital role in keeping that promise. He must make sure that the agency meets its mission of protecting our environment – ensuring clean water, air, and land – while allowing our economy to grow.

Our committee is taking up the nomination of Attorney General Pruitt this week. I look forward to hearing more about his vision for the agency and how he will help get Americans back to work.

The EPA has made the last eight years hard for families in Wyoming and across rural America. Today, there is reason to be hopeful.

The status quo at the EPA is changing.

Republican John Barrasso represents Wyoming in the U.S. Senate. He serves in the Senate as a member of both the Energy and Environment Committees. Follow him on Twitter@SenJohnBarrasso.