Scott Pruitt EPA swamp-draining fear brings crocodile tears

By |2017-02-21T14:28:34+00:00February 21st, 2017|CFACT Insights|14 Comments

Last Friday’s 56-42 Senate vote confirmation of Scott Pruitt as top EPA administrator brings a very unwelcome political climate change for many of the agency’s 15,000 federal career employees and their executive branch-appointed bosses who fought his approval tooth and claw.

Referring to their aggressive and defiant letter-writing and telephone campaign protesting Pruitt’s appointment, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University Director James Thurber told the New York Times, “It is rare…I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this.”

The vast majority of those protesters are Civil Service employees who can’t be fired. Recognizing this, former George W. Bush administration EPA Administrator and New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman commented, “What it means is that it’s going to be a blood bath when Pruitt gets in there.”

Red meat prompting this fear and loathing attack has been served up as the former Oklahoma attorney general sued to block EPA environmental regulations at least 14 times, questions any credible scientific evidence of a human-caused climate crisis, and opposes the Obama Administration EPA’s costly climate alarm-predicated energy regulatory policies that circumvent legislative oversight.

Branded by opponents as a “climate denier” and “oil and gas shill,” Pruitt told hostile Democrat Senate confirmation hearing inquisitors and others present what he really thinks.

Pruitt accused the EPA of overstepping its authority, saying that it has “bootstrapped its own powers and tools through rule making,” and through prearranged-outcome, “sue and settle” deals with friendly litigants. His policies would rely more upon states rather than federal officials to be “our nation’s front-line environmental implementers and enforcers.”

Pruitt sided with farmers, ranchers, and small business owners who have felt “hopeless, subject to a never-ending torrent of new regulations that only a lawyer can understand.” He said that “They fear the EPA, and that just shouldn’t be the case.” He promised to “work tirelessly to ensure that the EPA acts lawfully, sensibly, and with those hardworking Americans ever in mind.”

In an exchange with Bernie Sanders (I-VT), he conceded that, “The climate’s changing and human activity contributes to that in some manner,” but that the degree of that contribution is “subject to more debate.”

Regarding energy policies, he said that under his leadership, the agency would stop “picking winners and losers.” Pruitt expects to quickly withdraw from the Obama EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan” (CPP). He would also terminate a 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule that asserts EPA power over virtually every creek, farm pond, or drainage ditch with a significant nexus to a “navigable waterway.”

Pruitt explained: “There’s a very simple reason why this needs to happen…Because the courts have seriously called into question the legality of those rules.” Pruitt should know, since he was a party to lawsuits which led to a Supreme Court stay on CPP and an appeal court’s hold on the water rule.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s February 11 keynote address remarks at Claremont Institute event clearly support the new EPA administrator’s legal positions. As Alito stated: “The Clean Air Act was enacted by Congress way back in 1970, and it regulates the emission of ‘pollutants’ – that’s the term in the statute.”

Justice Alito pointed out that, “When Congress authorized the regulation of pollutants, what it had in mind were substances like sulfur dioxide, or particulate matter — basically, soot or smoke in the air. Congress was not thinking about carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.” He warned that, “Now, if the administrative agency [EPA] can do that, I don’t know what an administrative agency cannot do. Lawmaking power has been transferred from Congress to the executive.”

Referring to the CPP, the Supreme Court Justice told the audience that, “…a policy of this importance should have been decided by elected representatives of the people in accordance with the Constitution and not by unelected members of the judiciary and bureaucrats.” He added, “But that is the system we have today, and it is a big crack in our constitutional structure.”

Alito spoke of “…a massive shift of lawmaking from the elected representatives of the people to unelected bureaucrats” which has “produced an enormous increase in regulations that we have experienced with all of the attendant effects on our economy.”

Citing the EPA’s water rule as an example, Alito said that it was based upon an obscure legal interpretation which nobody, including Congress, understood. Assuming it meant rivers and lakes, he asked, “But what about a stream that is dry for most of the year? What about an irrigation ditch? What about a soggy backyard?”

Yes, and while they’re at it, why not regulate murky EPA swamp waters as well. Scott Pruitt might be just the right guy to take on that dirty challenge.


  1. Frederick Colbourne February 22, 2017 at 2:48 AM

    I comment as a life-long environmentalist (since about the age of 6).

    Whatever else Mr Trump does during his presidency no adverse effects will outweigh the massive benefits to Americans that we may expect from appointment of Mr Pruitt as EPA administrator.

    I say this because I believe that Mr Pruitt will redirect the EPA along a path that will restore public support for environmental management that will have real health and welfare benefits. More than that, Mr Pruitt will ensure that the EPA abides by the principles of federalism as set out by the Founders.

    • cunudiun February 23, 2017 at 10:03 AM

      There has always been “public support for environmental management that will have real health and welfare benefits.” What are you even talking about?

      I’m sure Mr. Pruitt will restore the Founders’ policies on climate change also. Bravo.

    • Anaussieinswitzerland February 24, 2017 at 9:08 AM

      To quote Steve Bannon, Pruitt has been appointed to “deconstruct” the EPA.

      Doesn’t sound like he’s there to boost environmental protection.

  2. TomHarrisICSC February 22, 2017 at 11:32 AM

    Pruitt “questions any credible scientific evidence of a human-caused climate crisis.” Well, of course! All science should be intensely questioned, over and over and discarded if it does not pass.

    Testifying before the Canadian House of Commons Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development on February 10, 2015, Carleton University geology Professor Tim Patterson explained, “In the legal system there is a mechanism to reopen cases when new evidence comes to light. In science this is the norm as well — questioning, re-examining, changing ideas and rejecting old ones when reputable new information surfaces. If Canada’s government is to base climate policy on real science, then they must accept that their policy decisions should be changeable as climate science advances. Otherwise, policy becomes disconnected from science, and we may waste billions of dollars going in entirely the wrong direction.”

    Precisely the same applies in the United States. Pruitt is right to try to open up the debate.

    • Ian5 February 23, 2017 at 1:00 AM

      Hi Tom, for the record, Patterson’s presentation was made on Feb 10, 2015 not 2005; I recall he made it on behalf of the largely irrelevant “Friends of Science” — a group that has a long history of misleading and misinforming the public on climate science and related policy matters. I think we can agree that FOS is certainly not a source of “…reputable new information” about climate science.

      • Brin Jenkins February 26, 2017 at 9:21 PM

        If only it was climate science Ian. The C02 mechanism is rubbish and no viable explanation exists for warming. You have never been able to explain it yourself so why should anyone join with you?

        • Ian5 February 27, 2017 at 11:21 PM

          “The C02 mechanism is rubbish and no viable explanation exists for warming”.

          Except that your absurd position is diametrically opposed to the positions of NASA, NOAA, American Meteorological Society, American Geophysical Union, U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Environment Canada, and virtually every other American and international scientific academy.

          • Brin Jenkins March 2, 2017 at 9:55 AM

            And appart from your denial of the truth you are unable to furnish a viable mechanism for discussion. I think you don’t have one. One red golf ball in 2500 would take some finding and you say that density of c02 can cause catastrophic warming, do tell us how?

            • Ian5 March 7, 2017 at 1:51 AM

              I’m not doing your homework for you anymore. The physical mechanism behind the greenhouse effect has been well established for over 100 years.

              “One red golf ball in 2500”. What is your point? At 40 ppm (one golf ball in 25000) chlorine gas causes toxic pneumonitis.

    • cunudiun February 23, 2017 at 1:01 AM

      Harris, you are such a bu||sh¡tter. “Questioning, re-examining, changing ideas and rejecting old ones when reputable new information surfaces,” is a concept completely alien to you. You are on record many times repeating a scientific falsehood despite having had that falsehood repeatedly called to your attention. You know, the one where you again claim high atmospheric carbon dioxide levels coexisted with a glaciated earth, when in fact they didn’t and you’ve been shown that they didn’t.

      • Don Eagle February 23, 2017 at 1:54 AM

        Tom Harris again…. What a horrible waste of energy and time to argue with him.

        It is necessary to give the flip side of his lying BS though.

    • Terry March 25, 2017 at 12:09 PM

      It will be a long hard road for him to derail the peer reviewed evidence by the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, which proves humans are the cause of global warming. Of course I refer to REAL climate scientists, not the bogus ones you refer to.

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