“I do,” President Trump said Thursday afternoon when asked by reporters whether he still has confidence in embattled Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt. And well the president should.
Pruitt has been the most effective appointee in implementing the Trump agenda. If Pruitt is forced out of his job because of charges he behaved unethically, America will suffer.
President Trump was elected as the economy was being choked and jobs were being destroyed by record-breaking, excessive and counterproductive regulations issued by the Obama administration.
The regulatory agency leading the charge against a healthy American economy and American job creation was the EPA. Candidate Trump knew this and campaigned on it. Millions of Americans voted for Trump precisely because he came out strongly against regulatory overreach.
When elected, the new president wisely tapped then-Oklahoma Attorney General Pruitt to bring EPA back with the bounds of the law and to end the EPA’s gross overregulation.
Pruitt knew well EPA’s proclivity toward rogue behavior. He had been involved in some dozen lawsuits against the agency.
EPA Administrator Pruitt was specifically directed via presidential executive order to roll back the two most excessive overreaches of the Obama EPA – the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule.
The Obama war on coal and coal miners, capped off by the Clean Power Plan, has destroyed 94 percent of the market value of the U.S. coal industry and killed thousands of coal miner jobs – all for no environmental or public health gain.
The Obama Waters of the United States rule would have given EPA essentially arbitrary control over every square inch of land in the United States. The Obama EPA had set itself up to deem any mud puddle as a “navigable waterway” subject to onerous, development-stopping regulation.
Both rules are now going through the lengthy process of review and repeal that Pruitt is overseeing while being savagely attacked by overregulation-loving environmental extremists.
Industries long aggrieved by the pre-Trump EPA, especially during the Obama years, now have an EPA administrator eager to listen to their side of the story.
Take the example of the glider truck industry, an $800 million business that rebuilds old truck engines and drive trains for installation in new truck chassis.
On its way out the door, the Obama EPA issued rules to that would outright kill the entire glider truck industry by arbitrarily reclassifying these rebuilt trucks as new trucks, thereby ensnaring them in industry-killing new truck emissions standards. The final Pruitt-led reversal of this job-killing Obama rule is expected anytime now.
Our economy is once again beginning to roar – so much so that there are labor shortages in many industries. Much of the credit goes to Pruitt for implementing the Trump agenda and otherwise reining in the previously out-of-control EPA.
A key reform being implemented by Pruitt that is driving the far-left greens nuts is his effort to stop EPA’s abuse of science.
The House of Representatives has repeatedly passed legislation to end some of EPA’s most egregious science hijinks.
One bill would end the practice of EPA grantees (who receive hundreds of millions of dollars in grants) serving on EPA science review panels so that they can rubberstamp their own work.
Another bill would end the EPA practice of using “secret science” as a basis for regulation. This “secret science” is data that the EPA under past presidents repeatedly refused to provide to Congress and the public for the purposes of independent review. The Obama EPA even defied a congressional subpoena for the data.
Both bills have been stuck in the Senate during the past three sessions because of the filibuster rules that let a minority of senators block action.
But Scott Pruitt rode to the rescue.
Last fall, Pruitt announced that EPA grantees would no longer be allowed to serve on advisory boards. They can pick one or the other – be a grant recipients or an adviser – but the clear conflict in filling both roles will no longer be permitted.
Then just last week, Pruitt announced that EPA would no longer rely on “secret science” in issuing regulations.
It would, of course, be better if the Senate passed the House bills and sent them to President Trump to sign. But until that can happen, Pruitt has taken the reins and implemented the policies on his own. Bravo.
Pruitt has also taken a keen interest in getting so-called toxic waste sites – known as Superfund sites – cleaned up. These cleanups suffered from years of neglect by the Obama administration, which had thrown all its attention and resources into global warming hysteria and destroying the coal industry.
There is much more EPA reform to come from Pruitt, as he is just hitting his stride. Now is not the time to change horses.
First, President Trump would have a hard time finding an EPA chief as competent and committed as Pruitt. Next, even if the president did, Senate Democrats would go all out to block confirmation.
President Trump should ignore the partisan attacks over trivialities. Let’s keep our eyes on the ball of EPA reform and restraint. Our national interest demands it.
Just let Pruitt do it.