Anytime the swamp is in an uproar, demanding someone’s head on a platter, you can bet there is mischief afoot. But it’s not the dastardly deeds allegedly committed by the target of the swamp’s ire that’s the real outrage; it’s those casting the stones who are the true miscreants.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is said to be entangled in “serious” ethics violations and to be wasting taxpayer money on extravagant trips and bloated security details. The Sierra Club, members of Congress, including a smattering of thoroughly misguided Republicans, and the mainstream media – all profess to be appalled at Pruitt’s behavior.
They complain that Pruitt, whose home is in Oklahoma, rented a small Capitol Hill condo for $1,500 a month from February to July 2017. The condo is co-owned by a woman who is a healthcare lobbyist with no business before EPA. Her husband, who has no share in the condo, owns a lobbying company which has represented energy companies but has had no clients with business before EPA during the Trump administration. EPA’s principal deputy general counsel has reviewed the terms of the lease and concluded it did “not constitute a prohibited gift.” In other words, there’s no there there.
Pruitt, along with his security detail, is charged with running up a $120,000 tab for a trip to a G-7 meeting in Italy last summer, as well for a $40,000 trip to Morocco. In truth, we would all be better of if neither Pruitt nor anyone else from the administration had attended the useless G-7 meeting, but such sojourns, however wasteful, are nothing new. Lisa Jackson, Obama’s first EPA administrator, rang up $332,000 in charges for four international trips between 2009 and 2013. Her successor, Gina McCarthy, let the good times roll to the tune of $630,000 between 2013 and 2017 for ten international junkets. Not a peep from the swamp.
Citing the nearly $3 million price tag, the Washington Post recently railed against the “unprecedented level of security that has surrounded Pruitt since shortly after he arrived at the agency.” What is also unprecedented are the intensity and number of threats made against Pruitt. How serious these threats are is a matter of speculation. But Pruitt has rained on the parade of an environmental movement which is not without its extremist elements, as the vandalism and occasional violence of last year’s anti-pipeline protests attest. And he has incurred the wrath of the Climate Industrial Complex, which has a huge financial stake in in perpetuating the myth of human-induced global warming.
Pruitt’s Real Sin: Cleaning Up EPA
In just over a year in office, Pruitt has transformed EPA from what was easily the most corrupt agency in the federal government into one that is narrowly focused on carrying out its original mission. Indeed, his accomplishments are remarkable:
- Pruitt rescinded the Obama-era “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which would have subjected millions of acres of private land across the country to federal zoning.
- Pruitt strongly supported U.S. withdrawal from the December 2015 Paris Climate Change accords, which would have crippled American energy production.
- Pruitt ended EPA’s practice is using “secret science” to justify new rules and regulations. No longer are the underlying data used to support regulatory actions off limits to public scrutiny.
- Pruitt has cleansed EPA’s scientific advisory boards of people who advise the agency on regulatory actions while simultaneously receiving EPA grants.
- Pruitt has begun reforming EPA’s Byzantine New Source Review process, which, upon completion, will allow for much faster permitting of new manufacturing and other commercial facilities while opening the door to more innovative approaches to reducing emissions.
- Pruitt has brought long-overdue reform to EPA’s hopelessly wasteful Superfund program, with the goal of cleaning up contaminated sites and returning them to the communities in which they are located and doing so in a timely fashion that no longer lines the pockets of lawyers and remediation contractors.
In undertaking these steps, not to mention those yet to come, Pruitt is not only restoring integrity to an agency that had become used to running roughshod over the rights of the people and entities it regulated. He has also attacked the cronyism, corruption, and institutional dishonesty of environmental organizations, purveyors of “green” solutions to problems that, in some cases, don’t exist, and their well-heeled financial support network anchored on both coasts.
Pruitt is by far President Trump’s most effective subordinate. No wonder the swamp wants to get rid of him.