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EPA Pick Faces Tough Climb

by Ken Root

Listen Here: Agribusiness Matters 2-10-17

Nothing is going to come easy for President Trump’s new cabinet officers. Especially egregious to Environmentalists is his pick for EPA Chief. The Sierra Club says Scott Pruitt will try to shut down the agency’s office responsible for enforcing rules like Waters of the U.S. American Farm Bureau counters that.

There are two sides to every argument, but in the case of Senate Approval of Cabinet Officers both sides have almost the same number of votes.

American Farm Bureau’s Don Parrish dismisses Sierra Club’s claim that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt wants to do to EPA’s Office of Enforcement & Compliance, what he did to Oklahoma’s environmental enforcement unit, which is shut it down.

Sierra Club says the Trump EPA is actively considering returning civil enforcement of rules like WOTUS, now on hold in the courts, to more politically-motivated program offices, thus curbing EPA’s work.

Parrish says it’s the environmentalists that are playing politics. “Their total existence is based upon their ability to raise funds. They’re trying to stir up a controversy here before Scott Pruitt gets into place.”

Parrish argues, the real reason environmentalists are upset, is Pruitt’s vow to follow the law, as Congress intended. “Scott Pruitt has assured members of the senate environment and public works committee during his confirmation hearing that he’s going to enforce the letter of the law that congress passed. I think this is a strong man, and this is something that the environmentalist are trying to do just to create confusion and controversy early in the Trump Administration.”

Parrish calls predictions of what Pruitt may do, “extremely premature.”

Environmentalists and Democrats charge Pruitt’s record of fighting EPA in court on WOTUS and other rules, and defending his state’s oil and gas industry, disqualifies him to head the nation’s top environmental agency. Republicans disagree, and ag groups largely back Pruitt’s anti-WOTUS stand, but question his commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard.