EPA and Pruitt Take Industry-Friendly Approach

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has taken an industry-friendly turn under the Trump administration, as administrator Scott Pruitt is moving to address several top priorities of the energy, agriculture and automotive sectors, The Hill reports.

EPA’s news attitude takes a major shift from the Obama administration, when business groups felt that they were shut out of the process. “It was the Obama administration that abandoned a successful, consensus-based energy strategy that had prevailed throughout the entire post-war period, one that encouraged all energy sources,” said Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association.

According to Popovich, the current administration is “simply returning to this time-tested approach.”

The mining association has advocated against the EPA’s rules on toxic water pollutants from coal-fired power plants; its Clean Water Rule, which would have put small waterways under EPA’s jurisdiction, and its Clean Power Plan, which would have limited carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, among others, The Hill adds.

Pruitt has delayed or worked to roll back all of those policies, and he also spoke to the group’s leadership in April. However, environmental groups have gotten less attention from the EPA, as they fear the agency’s core mission is taking a back seat to the interests of industry.

“This man’s entire career has been devoted to dismantling the EPA, going after the fundamental environmental laws that we all count on to protect public health,” climate policy director at the Sierra Club Liz Perera said, adding that his group has not met with Pruitt since he was confirmed in February.

“What does surprise us is that the public isn’t as outraged as they should be, and they don’t know.”, Perera noted.

The EPA released Pruitt’s meeting schedules from April to September on Friday. The calendar shows that Pruitt has met frequently with industry groups or companies with interests at the EPA, like the American Gas Association, the Auto Alliance, Valero Energy Corp. and state agriculture associations.

In line with the rest of the administration, Pruitt’s biggest focus at the EPA has been reducing regulations, and frequently, he’s taken those actions after receiving an industry request. As Pruitt and Trump move to fill out leadership roles at the 15,000-person agency, they are often recruiting people who have been in the trenches battling EPA regulations, The Hill comments.

Michael Dourson, tapped to lead the chemical safety office, has run an organization that conducts industry-friendly analyses of chemicals, while William Wehrum, slated to be the top air regulator at the EPA, is an attorney at Hunton & Williams, representing major business clients who are fighting EPA rules. Business leaders say Pruitt is striking an effective balance and keeping necessary rules and programs in place, The Hill writes.

“We have been pleased with the response from EPA regarding eliminating duplicative and ineffective programs as well as regulatory requirements that needlessly delay infrastructure projects,” said Jake Rubin, spokesman for the American Gas Association.

“We have also highlighted for them programs we believe are vital to maintain, like the Greenhouse Gas Inventory.” he added.

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