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Pruitt Begins Tenure as EPA Head

Friday, February 24, 2017

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Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicating in his first address to employees and the nation that he would follow President Donald J. Trump's lead in stepping back from regulations set forth by the Obama administration.

His first week, though, was colored with questions about his relationship with oil and gas companies during his tenure as Oklahoma state attorney general.

While his nomination was seen by some as divisive, and his confirmation was approved by a relatively slim 52-46 vote, Pruitt's speech merely made mention of the political tension at the federal level, and instead focused on the new relationship he hopes the EPA to have with each state.

Gage Skidmore, CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On Tuesday (Feb. 21), newly confirmed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt delivered his first speech to his employees and the nation.

“In this environment we live in this country today … it’s a very toxic environment,” Pruitt said. “We have jerseys that we put on both politically and otherwise. And that’s something, I think, is damaging to finding results and answers.”

Glance at the Past

As an attorney general, Pruitt often went rounds with the EPA and joined more than a dozen lawsuits challenging EPA actions by the former administration. He historically hasn’t shied away from an alliance with fossil fuel firms and maintained that he had stood up for the concerns of Oklahoma’s largest industries.

On Wednesday (Feb. 22), emails obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy were released, illustrating Pruitt's close ties with oil and gas company Devon Energy. In some cases, Pruitt appears to have sent correspondence that was drafted by Devon to federal agencies including the EPA and the Department of the Interior, presented as information from the Attorney General's office.

EPA Headquarters
Fletcher6, CC 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pruitt has suggested that, as EPA Administrator, he will follow President Donald J. Trump's lead in stepping back from regulations set forth by the Obama administration.

Also while serving his eight years in Oklahoma, Pruitt came to an agreement with his Arkansas counterpart to study the water quality of the Illinois River. He also led a water rights settlement between the state of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Tribal Nations.

Looking to the Future

In his speech Pruitt gave a few nods to his incoming cooperative federalist approach to running the agency, which should give states a larger collaborative role, a stance that seems to be going over well with some industry organizations.

National Association of Home Builders Chairman Granger MacDonald congratulated Pruitt and noted that he “understands the need for a commonsense regulatory process that is based on sound science, and does not trample states’ rights or ignore the economic impact on small businesses.”

And while he may face opposition from inside his own team (nearly 800 former EPA officials penned a letter opposing his nomination), Pruitt is receiving seemingly equal amounts of applause throughout the country similar to that from the NAHB.

Such support comes from the American Chemistry Council, which has the implementation of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act on its wish list.­­

“We look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt, his team and the dedicated EPA staff to ensure that credible science and transparency are at the heart of regulatory decisions and that our nation’s key environmental statutes are implemented in a sensible manner,” the ACC said in a press release.

The American Coatings Association has not issued a statement or official quote on the confirmation of Pruitt.

   

Tagged categories: American Chemistry Council; Coating chemistry; Coating Materials; Coatings raw materials manufacturers; Construction chemicals; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); North America; Program/Project Management

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