If Scott Pruitt’s critics are to be believed he’s a mythical dark god of destruction. He’s Poseidon in a bad mood. As Time warns, he’ll “Imperil Science — And Earth.” He’ll spin up hurricanes and trigger earthquakes. He’ll submerge islands and ignite forests. He’ll turn water into mercury, or at least turn it brown.
Of course, if Pruitt is confirmed, the Marvel Comic villain caricature his critics have conjured up surely won’t materialize. Instead, America will see a humble, measured and thoughtful public servant who will rein in an out-of-control federal agency.
Pruitt Will Put Federalism First
Pruitt’s critics are embarrassing themselves with their over-the-top warnings because they know their days of using the EPA to harass states and businesses are about to come to an end.
Unlike the Obama Administration, Pruitt believes the prerogatives of the states, not the federal government, should come first. That means federal agencies should set minimum standards states can exceed instead of empowering the federal government to impose heavy-handed mandates from on high.
Kim Strassel at the Wall Street Journal describes the Obama administration’s overreach:
Under the Clean Air Act, states are allowed to craft their own implementation plans. If the EPA disapproves of a state plan, it is empowered to impose a federal one—one of the most aggressive actions the agency can take against a state, since it is the equivalent of a seizure of authority. In the entirety of the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the EPA imposed five federal implementation plans on states. By last count, the Obama administration has imposed at least 56.
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA 13 times to block its power grabs. Pruitt also antagonized his detractors by suing the federal government over Obamacare’s usurpation of states rights.
After his nomination Pruitt vowed in a statement, “The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses.”
Pruitt Will Protect the Environment
Pruitt’s critics also don’t like to acknowledge that as he did act to protect Oklahoma’s environment as state attorney general. Writing in The Hill, former U.S. Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) says:
Pruitt negotiated a historic water rights settlement with his state’s Indian tribes that preserved the ecosystems of scenic lakes and rivers for generations to come.
He also commissioned a fresh study of phosphorus load data for an agreement between Arkansas and Oklahoma to reduce pollution in the Illinois River. In addition, he’s represented Oklahomans in numerous actions against industrial polluters and in utility rate cases.
The hysteria surrounding Pruitt is ironic. The very traits his critics despise — his firm belief in federalism, constitutional government, and the rule of law — are the same traits that will make him a responsible EPA administrator. Pruitt would be an evidence-based administrator who respects the law. Period. That’s what worries critics. Under Obama, they grew accustomed to an EPA that bent science, and the law, to accommodate ideology.
Pruitt’s hearing will show he isn’t a threat to the world, just their world.
John Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Opportunity Lives. You can follow him on Twitter @johnhart333.