EPA chief joins McConnell for home state sweep
By Ray Bowman
(A version of this article first appeared in The Farmer’s Pride, October 19 issue)
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was serving as Oklahoma’s Attorney General when President Trump asked him to accept his current post, but the Kentucky native’s roots run deep in Bluegrass soil. Pruitt was born in Danville, grew up in Lexington and played baseball for the University of Kentucky before finishing his undergraduate work at Georgetown College.
Pruitt and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell recently spent a day in the Commonwealth announcing that his agency plans to pull the plug on the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. Speaking in Hazard, Pruitt announced plans to sign a proposed rule to formally withdraw the Plan.
“That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” the administrator told the coal-centric audience in Hazard. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power and authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”
Coal-producing states, in particular, had seen the Plan, not as a viable program to promote clean energy, but rather as a “War on Coal.”
“It is right for this administration to say the war is over,” Pruitt said.
Later that day, McConnell introduced Pruitt at a Kentucky Farm Bureau-sponsored meeting at Mahan Farms near Paris, saying “the President could not have picked a better person to bring a new approach at the EPA than the leader of the Attorneys General who was going after the previous EPA.” McConnell called the decision “inspired.”
The Clean Power Plan isn’t the only thing that Pruitt has in his sights, however. He told the farmers gathered in Bourbon County that his EPA is also in the process of repealing the Waters of the United States rule (WOTUS), a controversial measure adopted in 2015.
“The last administration told us,” Pruitt said “that we need to provide clarity to people across this country by adopting a new rule that helps set clear guidelines on when federal jurisdiction begins and ends. If that was their goal, they failed miserably.”
Pruitt said the WOTUS rule sent shockwaves across the country because it was not about water conservation but about power over land use decisions. “We’re on the path to get rid of that,” Pruitt continued. “It’s not about power, it’s about trust and empowerment to you.”
The EPA’s goal is not to merely overturn the WOTUS plan, but to replace it with a substitute that reflects the needs and desires of those affected by it.
“We’re going to make an informed decision, but at the end of the day, it’s going to be an objective, bright-line definition so that you know when federal jurisdiction begins and ends. So that years later you don’t have to face the fear of fines that the EPA tries to assess against you because you didn’t get a permit they thought you should get,” Pruitt said.
“Every single day, what we (EPA) do impacts you and we have to work together to achieve better outcomes for water and air quality in this country,” Pruitt said.