Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt touted his agency’s achievements of the past year and a half, and pushed back against the recent barrage of criticism leveled at him.
Pruitt had a very busy start to the weekend. He was a featured speaker Friday morning at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority conference in Washington, D.C. Later that day, he flew to Denver for the annual Western Conservative Summit. At both events, the EPA leader—who’s faced intense public scrutiny in past months—celebrated numerous regulatory rollbacks and other accomplishments during his tenure.
“This is a transformational time. There are certain times in history that when you’re living in them you recognize that what’s happening is going to impact generations into the future,” Pruitt said Friday at the Road to Majority conference, comparing the Trump White House to former President Ronald Reagan’s legacy.
After arriving in Denver, the EPA leader went into more detail on how his agency has changed since the Obama administration—and how it’s better.
“The past administration had an unapologetic declared war on a sector of our economy,” Pruitt stated to the Western Conservative Summit crowd. He blasted the previous administration for attacking not only fossil fuels and manufacturers, but also farmers and ranchers. “That just to me is so wrongheaded,” he said.
The EPA chief rejected the idea that the government must choose between job growth or the environment, believing that the EPA can enact commonsense regulation that protects the ecosystem while also allowing the U.S. economy to prosper. Pruitt, who served as attorney general of Oklahoma before taking his current position, argued that the Obama administration believed EPA work was a zero sum game where there always had to be a winner and a loser.
“The American citizen in our economy and what we’ve done to advance these key issues, we’ve done it better than anybody in the world,” he said, according to Western Wire. “We shouldn’t pick winners and losers. We shouldn’t use regulatory power to engage in a weaponization of the agency.”
Pruitt’s comments come as the EPA introduced this week the “500 Days of American Greatness” campaign. The initiative celebrates the agency’s success over the past year and a half, much of which includes numerous rollbacks of Obama-era regulations by the Trump administration. With much help from Pruitt’s EPA, President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, repealed the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Rule, and more.
The EPA revealed it will explore cost-benefit reform when considering regulation and rule-making in addition to cutting government red tape. “It’s just a night and day difference in the sense of how we approach these issues,” Pruitt explained.
Pruitt also acknowledged Friday the large amount of controversy he’s attracted. The media and environmental critics have hammered him over the past months for a litany of actions, including his living arrangements, first-class flight travel, raises to employees, expensive security, and numerous other issues. Pruitt and his team, however, have countered that his flight travel and security detail stem from an unprecedented amount of threats directed at him.
Pruitt said he knew reforming the EPA from within would not be an easy task. He said he was sure he’d ruffle feathers along the way.
“I knew coming into this position, this has been a place with a worldview that is antithetical to everything we’ve been talking about,” he explained. “This is a transformative time, and we have an opportunity to get things right for decades to come.”
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