The Case for Scott Pruitt to Lead the EPA

The Case for Scott Pruitt to Lead the EPA
Gage Skidmore

The mainstream media’s misrepresentation of Scott Pruitt as an unsophisticated crony of the powerful energy lobby couldn’t be farther from the truth. In nominating Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President-elect Donald Trump has selected someone willing to defend the American people’s values, and the Senate should confirm him as soon as possible.

Here is how Pruitt will lead in accordance with American ideals:

Pruitt will defend separation of powers. As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt has led the charge against the Clean Power Plan (CPP), a series of EPA regulations crafted by the Obama administration that attempt to reduce greenhouse emissions from power plants.

Only Congress has the power to enact such extensive changes. The EPA’s attempt to bypass the legislative branch is unconstitutional. As Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in FDA vs. Brown & Williamson: “No matter how important, conspicuous, and controversial the issue, and regardless of how likely the public is to hold the Executive Branch politically accountable, an administrative agency’s power to regulate in the public interest must always be grounded in a valid grant of authority from Congress.”

No such valid grant has been given. Pruitt and attorneys general of 27 other states have sued the EPA for overreaching its constitutional limits. They are supported by both conservative and liberal judges in condemnation of the regulations. Bush appointee Judge Brett Kavanagh referenced both O’Connor and Scalia opinions in his arguments against CPP. And even Lawrence Tribe, Obama’s law school mentor, thinks the plan is unconstitutional. Pruitt’s case is currently awaiting a decision in the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Afterwards, it must sit before the Supreme Court before CPP can be enacted.

Pruitt will ensure that the EPA plays by the rules and goes through Congress. By doing so, he will promote the best method for producing effective environmental policy: bipartisan efforts in Congress, not top-down decisions made by unelected officials.

Pruitt will defend federalism. The EPA has repeatedly ignored the rights of states to determine their own policy. Time and time again, it has imposed uniform rules for diverse situations, landscapes, and people. CPP is just one example of such regulations, and according to Pruitt’s attorney, David Rivkin, it would allow the EPA to drive states on issues like developing new power plants.

Pruitt has doggedly fought CPP and similar regulations, refusing to quit even when the courts would not hear his cases. He has sued the EPA multiple times over rules that interfered with state sovereignty. Under his leadership, Washington bureaucrats will no longer dictate the lives and lands of the citizens with whom they barely interact. Instead, state and federal governments will work together to create legislation appropriate to regional needs. And states, no longer bound by regulation, will be free to experiment with environmental policies that, if successful, can be implemented on a national level.

Pruitt will defend American entrepreneurship. Environmental issues have stunted American industry. The EPA’s regulatory onslaught has cost  Americans $1 trillion over the past decade, and the agency’s  attack on coal has cost Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio thousands of jobs.

If these regulations go unchallenged, American corporations will be left with two options. They either can spend money on lawyers to help navigate endless EPA regulations and stay in America, or they can move to countries without regulations. If they stay, the money spent on lawyers prohibits them from creating jobs. If they leave, the emissions in countries without regulations will do even greater damage to the global environment.

Pruitt will advance American businesses. He has a history of working with, not against, business; his letter to the EPA objecting to CPP was developed in cooperation with Devon Energy. Although the media tried to frame this as underhanded dealing with a corporate lobby, Pruitt’s actions actually defend American workers. Labor unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the United Mine Workers, have joined his suit against CPP. And with restrictive regulations eliminated, companies can invest in hiring more workers rather than exorbitant legal fees.

Pruitt has shown himself to be an audacious and effective leader, willing to question establishment conventions in defense of the Constitution. Under him, the EPA will develop strategic, specific solutions to environmental issues that take both innovations from the private sector and the concerns of the states into account. The Senate must honor the American principles Pruitt has so ardently defended and immediately confirm his appointment.

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