Audio: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Touts Friendlier, More Cooperative Relationship With States

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington Jan. 18, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

“If you go back to the inception of the agency…Congress has been very insistent in saying the states have a role,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told me during an interview on my radio show today. “The past administration simply disregarded that,” he continued.

Pruitt told me he wants the EPA to focus on “cooperative federalism” during his tenure, and lately he’s backed up those words with action.

“The days of coercive federalism are over,” he told Governor Doug Burgum in a letter last month, communicating that the EPA wouldn’t expect the states to spend money on preparing to comply with the Clean Power Plan which has been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

He said that during the three administrations prior to Obama – Geroge W. Bush, Clinton, and George H.W. Bush – there were only 5 federal plans issued under the Clean Air Act. During the 8 years of the Obama administration there were 56.

Earlier this week the EPA announced pending approval for North Dakota’s proposal for a state-run program exploring a carbon capture and sequestration program which would use emissions from coal-fired power plants to help push oil out of the ground in away that leaves the emissions in the ground. “North Dakotans know better than anyone the needs of their environment, economy, and communities,” Pruitt said in his releasing announcing that decision.

That’s a big departure from the Obama era where states like North Dakota saw the EPA, rightly I think, as an enemy to their well being.

Pruitt highlighted for me just how egregious the Obama administration was in flexing the EPA’s muscle. He said that during the three administrations prior to Obama – Geroge W. Bush, Clinton, and George H.W. Bush – there were only 5 federal plans issued under the Clean Air Act.

During the 8 years of the Obama administration there were 56.

And for all that, Pruitt said very little was accomplished. “Look at the past administration’s record and ask yourself what did they achieve,” he told me, adding that the Obama administration was “using regulatory power to create winners and losers.”

The EPA is an especially consequential agency for North Dakota where our chief industries are energy and agriculture. I asked Pruitt what his message was for people in our state working in those industries.

He talked then of certainty, saying it was important for the EPA to make clear rules from a process that provides plenty of opportunity for input and compliance.

Here’s the full audio:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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