Recently confirmed and highly controversial EPA Director Scott Pruitt said America doesn’t have to choose between industry and environmentalism.
“We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” Pruitt said during his first address to the EPA. Yet Pruitt laid out no clear plan on how he would balance President Donald Trump’s promise to undo regulations established under former President Obama for the sake of business with his obligation to protect and preserve the environment.
The sentiment that the EPA has been overly aggressive with regulations and taken away the rights of states to set their own regulatory practices is a conservative staple and theme of Pruitt’s. Pruitt sued the EPA over a dozen times during the Obama presidency and offered insight on how to avoid legal action from people like himself.
“The only authority that any agency has in the executive branch is the authority given to it by Congress,” he said. “We need to respect that. We need to follow that. Because when we do that, guess what happens? We avoid litigation.”
The director of the EPA also discussed living in a “toxic environment,” which is the result of an inability to alleviate party tensions to bring forth real solutions. Pruitt pledged to listen to employees of the agency to create collaborative resolutions.
“Civility is something I believe in very much,” he said. “We ought to be able to get together and wrestle through some issues in a civil manner.”
Pruitt did not offer any detail on upcoming executive orders from the Trump administration that would potentially disband acts such as the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the U.S. regulation. He also did not mention climate change. Pruitt finished his speech making strong statements about the environmental efforts of the United States that are already in place.
“I think our nation has done better than any nation in the world at making sure we do the job of protecting our natural resources and protecting our environment while also respecting the economic growth and jobs our nation seeks to have,” he said.