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Scott Pruitt Vows Rapid, 'Aggressive' Attack on EPA Regulations

The administraion "is dead set on destroying the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health," wrote NRDC head Rhea Suh.

Andrea Germanos

Demonstrators hold signs at a rally to stop the appointment of Scott Pruitt for the EPA. (Photo: Victoria Pickering/flickr/cc)
Newly confirmed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt on Saturday vowed quick and "aggressive" gutting of Obama-era regulations addressing climate change and the nation's waterways.

"I think there are some regulations that in the near-term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way. And I think maybe next week you may be hearing about some of those," he said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) taking place near Washington, D.C..

Pruitt—who's been described as "a lackey for the big energy companies" and whose "confirmation shows once again that Republicans will deny climate change and protect the interests of Big Oil at all costs"—sued the agency he now leads more than a dozen times during his tenure as Oklahoma attorney general. And his "close and friendly relationship" with fossil fuel companies was confirmed Tuesday, the day he began his term as EPA head, by the release of thousands of emails

Reuters reports that during in his comments at CPAC,

Pruitt mentioned three rules ushered in by Obama that could meet the chopping block early on: the Waters of the U.S. rule outlining waterways that have federal protections; the Clean Power Plan requiring states to cut carbon emissions; and the U.S. Methane rule limiting emissions from oil and gas installations on federal land.

Pruitt also accused he agency of overreach during the previous administration and said it was "so focused on climate change and so focused on CO2," adding that Americans would be "justified" in wanting to completely get rid of the EPA. "I think people across this country look at the EPA much like they look at the IRS. I hope to be able to change that," he said. (A 2013 Pew Research survey on public opinions of federal agencies, however, doesn't back up his claim.) 

USA Today adds:

One of [Pruitt's] top priorities, he said, will be providing businesses with "regulatory certainty."

"We're going to provide certainty by living within the framework that Congress has passed," he said. Obama-era regulations that don't fit within that framework will be rolled back, Pruitt added.

Bloomberg notes that

[a]s soon as Monday, President Donald Trump is slated to sign documents compelling the EPA to begin undoing recent regulations, including the Clean Power Plan that slashes greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation and the Waters of the U.S. rule that defined which waterways are subject to pollution regulation. Documents drafted by the Trump administration would direct Pruitt to begin dismantling those measures, helping fulfill the president's pledge to eviscerate rules he describes as throttling U.S. energy development.

From Trump's short time in office, wrote Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, it's clear "[he] is dead set on destroying the commonsense safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health, crippling our government's ability to stand up to industrial polluters, and shutting down the voice of the people in those actions that most impact our lives."

"Let's be just as clear as to who'll pay the price for this reckless assault on our values and rights: our families, workers, communities, and kids. That is not okay," she wrote.


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