Is Trump’sPick for the E.P.A. A Disaster for the Environment? 

Donald Trump recently announced that Scott Pruitt, A.G.for the state of Oklahoma, has been tapped to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Pundits on the Left had an immediate and visceral reaction, fearing the worst as usual. Pruitt, they noted, is currently suing the EPA (along with a number of other states A.G.’s) and has been a persistent thorn in the side of President Obama’s agenda toward increased regulation and stricter controls on natural resources like coal. Oklahoma is a resource-rich state that relies heavily on jobs provided by energy industries. His responsibility as Attorney General of that state was to protect the citizens of that state and the companies that make his constituents livelihoods, from unnecessary overreach by the federal government. That’s how a balanced system works – one side takes, the other side objects and they end up meeting in the middle. As head of the EPA, he will be in a position to loosen some of those restrictions that he feels are unconstitutional (and very well may have been overturned in any case by the courts). Ultimately, he’ll be responsible for implementing the vision of the Trump administration, which had all along promised a stark change to the Obama initiatives, which Trump (and others) claim were job and growth killers – so no one should be surprised by this appointment.

Pruitt is not some sort of Anti-Environmental Activist. In fact, his objections were mostly on the basis of scientific evidence and disagreements of the interpretation of that evidence, not some sort of ideological basis. In May of this year, Pruitt co-wrote and article for the National Review in which he stated: “We do not doubt the sincerity of the beliefs of our fellow attorneys general about climate change and the role human activity plays in it, but we call upon them to press those beliefs through debate, not through governmental intimidation of those who disagree with them.” Already, however, the New York Times’ used the inflammatory headline calling Pruitt as a “Climate Change Denier” – whereas other more considered publications used the appropriate term “Climate Change Skeptic”.

Further in the National Review piece, Pruitt cut to the heart of the matter, and it didn’t involve science or the environment at all. It concerned President Obama’s attempts to do through executive action what he could not do via proper channels: “Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this tactic of advancing the climate-change agenda by any means necessary. President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is a particularly noteworthy example. This EPA regulation, one of the most ambitious ever proposed, will shutter coal-fired power plants, significantly increase the price of electricity for American consumers, and enact by executive fiat the very same cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions that Congress has rejected. The Clean Power Plan was promulgated without any consultation with Congress. No bills were debated, no votes were taken, and the representatives of the American people had no opportunity to object or offer their own suggestions. The checks and balances built into our system of government were simply ignored as inconvenient impediments to the president’s agenda.”

If anything, Pruitt will provide a sober voice that expects a healthy debate with equal respect given to both sides of the climate change debate. Furthermore, it appears that he will continue to advocate for the rule of law to be applied – including the involvement of Congress in actions that directly impact the states. In other words – the way it’s supposed to work in the first place.
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