Scott Pruitt under siege (POLITICO analysis)
EPA transformation to damage institutional Environmental Justice Agenda
By Guido Blattmann, 2017-12-07

Since Scott Pruitt was appointed as head of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) early this year, he and his agency are under fire from environmental activists and liberal media. The science community is Argus-eyed as much seems to be at stack. It is obvious that Pruitt follows a different agenda than his predecessor under the Obama administration as he is taking steps to implement a shift in the EPA's strategy.

One of Pruitts recent actions, which avowed critics and alienated much of the career staff in the agency as well, was the blocking of grants for external experts. When Pruitt came into office, he promised to "discard his predecessor's overreaching focus on climate change and concentrate on what he called the agency's real mission: cleaning up the air, water and land."

But where are we at 10 months later and what has Pruitt accomplished since?

POLITICO undertook an analysis and examined which goals Pruitt has reached and which not. What can be conluded from his agenda setting for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To get a fair picture, POLITICO compared EPA's Federal Register filings for the first eight months of the Trump administration with the same period for Obama's presidency in 2009.

On remarkable point is that Pruitt took 378 actions (as of Sept. 25, compared with 213 during the same period under Obama) on major Obama-era regulations and the nation's most-polluted sites. He increased the number of EPA enforcement agents and has visited more than 25 states, most of them with Republican governments.

Critics like John Walke, lawyer of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said: "Those numbers may show that EPA is rushing to sign off on weak plans, rather than ensuring that the states are putting in place sufficient protections." Republican Don Beyer (D-Va.) expressed his concern that Pruitt's actions are already causing real damage.

On the other hand, there are other voices like Dan Byers for instance, vice president of policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute: "Under Obama, there was at least a sense that we would have a nice polite meeting, but that feedback was moot because the path had already been decided. Now there's a feeling of a true partnership."

In general POLITICO stated that "Pruitt has rolled back or stalled environmental protections, given the fossil fuel and chemistry industries more sway over public health decisions and taken steps that critics fear will undermine work on pollution cleanups".

The feedback is ambivalent. And so far it is without doubt way too early to draw a final conclusion, where Pruitt is heading with the EPA. Therefore we will continue with our coverage on EPA's policy shift.

Image: © Lorie Shaull (via FlickR)