After eight years of Obama appointees trying to grab dominion over every square foot of rural land in Nevada and the West, laying claim to every mud puddle, dictating how clean the air must be and generally trampling states’ rights under a stampede of bureaucrats, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency promises to be an abrupt about-face and double-time march toward sanity.
Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, has locked horns with the EPA and other federal agencies several times in recent years, including challenging the Clean Power Plan (CPP), the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) overreach, Endangered Species Act (ESA) decisions and even Obama’s failed effort to impose stricter overtime rules and costs on businesses and state and local governments.
Nevada’s own attorney general, Adam Laxalt, upon learning of the pending appointment immediately issued a statement praising the selection of Pruitt, who has joined with Nevada and other states in fighting a number of administration power grabs.
“I am confident that AG Pruitt will strike the right balance between protecting the environment and not using regulations to stifle job growth and energy exploration in the U.S.,” Laxalt said. “He is a tireless public servant who will continue to serve our country well and be an asset to the President-elect’s administration. I look forward to working with AG Pruitt and the incoming administration on issues affecting Nevadans, including Waters of the U.S., ozone standards and regulations for competitive racing vehicles.”
An example of Pruitt’s views on the role of the federal government and the rights of the citizens and local governance came when he filed suit over the EPA’s WOTUS rules.
“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry, and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound, and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” Pruitt told the press at the time. “I, and many other local, state and national leaders across the country, made clear to the EPA our concerns and opposition to redefining the ‘Waters of the U.S.’ However, the EPA’s brazen effort to stifle private property rights has left Oklahoma with few options to deter the harm that its rule will do.”
When Oklahoma joined the 29 states, including Nevada, suing the federal government over Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which was an attempt to shut down virtually all electricity generation with fossil fuels and replace it with more expensive renewables, Pruitt commented, “This administration continues to treat states as mere vessels of federal will, abusing and disrespecting the vertical separation of powers defined by our Constitution.”
Pruitt also sued the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of his state and a coalition of oil and gas companies over the federal agency’s practice of “sue and settle,” whereby it would cave in to frivolous ESA lawsuits by self-styled environmental groups and restrict use of public and private land.
His arguments paralleled those that have been made by Laxalt and Gov. Brian Sandoval. Pruitt said the agency was making land use “determinations without a thorough review of the science. This violates the original statute requiring sound science before listing species.” He added this also breaks federal law by “ignoring state and local conservation measures.”
The heads of environmentalists are exploding over Pruitt’s appointment and many are calling on the Senate to use its advise and consent power to vote against his confirmation.
The greens positively fulminate over statements like the ones made by Pruitt and the Alabama attorney general in an op-ed in National Review in May: “Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”
We call on Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who will be the state’s senior senator after Harry Reid thankfully retires, to stand behind Pruitt as an appointee who promises to stand up for states’ and individuals’ rights and a Federalist form of government. We won’t deign to bother with imploring Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.
A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.