When considering the core mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma, tells Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, it has lost its moorings.
During a brief visit to his home state Tuesday, Administrator Pruitt explained to Hays, how rolling back the Waters of the United States rule, will help bring the EPA back to the basics.
“As far as the WOTUS rule is concerned,” Pruitt said, “what folks need to understand is – we’re on the pathway to undoing, rescinding the previous rule, which is need.”
Currently, Pruitt has issued a stay against the standing rule, put in place by the previous administration. He emphasizes that farmer, ranchers and landowners of all types need feel confident that the rule as it is written today, will never be put into effect.
“So, we’ve begun the process to withdraw, rescind that rule,” he said. “Second to that, we’ll begin the process to provide a definition that fits the Clean Water Act, and the jurisdiction of the EPA.”
In doing this, Pruitt says potential power grabs displacing state authority like that attempted by the EPA under Gina McCarthy’s administration, will be avoided. Pruitt also insists stakeholders will have a seat at the table when this issue is being discussed.
“In fact, we’re going to have voices and comments through that process to help us understand what continuous service connection equals with respect to wetlands; what does a continuous flow of water actually mean…,” Pruitt proposed. “We want to move this process to where there’s objective criteria. That’s what’s expected.”
Regarding a time frame to see a full rollback of WOTUS actually happen is hard to nail down at this point, but Pruitt says he has challenged his internal team to have the legwork done by as early as the end of this year, and adds that, ‘they are hard at it.’
“People at the local level need to know that the EPA is not the first stop with respect to land use,” he asserted. “That’s the way things should be.”