New head of the US EPA sets his focus on economic growth

9th March 2017


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  • Mitigation

Author

Simon Hayes

Scott Pruitt, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, has said that growing the economy and protecting the environment can go hand in hand.

Addressing staff at the regulator’s head office in Washington, Pruitt said: ‘I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs, and pro-environment. We don’t have to choose between the two. I think our nation has done better than any in the world at making sure that we do the job of protecting our natural resources, and protecting our environment, while also respecting economic growth.’

He warned that regulators should not act outside their legal mandate but instead provide businesses with certainty: ‘Those that we regulate ought to know what we expect of them so that they can plan and allocate resources to comply. That’s really the job of the regulator, and the process we engage in.’

Pruitt’s nomination by president Trump, confirmed by a 52–46 vote in the Senate, has been controversial. As Oklahoma attorney-general, Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times, while his LinkedIn profile describes him as a leading advocate against the agency’s ‘activist agenda’.

During his confirmation hearing, Pruitt was asked by senator Bernie Sanders whether he thought climate change was caused by human activity. He replied that he believed it ‘impacted’ rather than ‘caused’ climate change and argued his personal opinion was immaterial.

US environmental groups have reacted with dismay to Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA administrator. ‘As [Oklahoma] attorney-general he put dirty energy interests and other polluters ahead of protecting public health,’ said Margie Alt at Environment America. ‘Instead of taking steps to reduce pollution, he sued to stop the agency he will now lead from enforcing critical clean air and water protections.’


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