Editorial: Head of EPA bemoans ‘weaponization’ of his agency

EPA head Scott Pruitt tours a Nevada mine. (Elko Daily Free Press pix)

Under the Constitution the duty of the executive branch of the federal government is to enforce the laws enacted by Congress. Somewhere along the way some presidents and many of their appointed administrators of the various executive branches have lost sight of this distinction and usurped powers not accorded them.

Fortunately this trend appears to be on the decline. Take for example the recent words of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt.

“We are housed in the Executive Branch, and your job is to enforce the law — the only authority I have is from Congress — largely what has happened with the past administration, they made it up,” Pruitt said in a recent press interview. “The fact that Congress is dysfunctional and is not updating the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act or all of these statutes that we administer, the fact that Congress isn’t doing that doesn’t mean EPA can say, ‘We’re going to do it in your place.’”

He went on to say his agency in the past had “weaponized” its rule making authority to pick and choose winners in the economy. “Weaponized in the sense of saying we are going to favor certain outcomes in the market with respect to energy and the environment — that’s not the role of a regulator,” Pruitt said.

A few days later the head of the EPA visited mining sites in Nevada and continued his rant about the weaponization of rules to prohibit economic activity rather than meet the congressional mandate to keep the air and water clean.

“The agency that I’ve been selected to lead, the last several years has been weaponized. It’s been weaponized against certain sectors of our economy, and yours was one of them,” the Elko newspaper quoted Pruitt as telling 300 miners during a visit to Coeur Mining’s Rochester mine near Lovelock. “Think about that for a second. An agency in Washington, D.C., weaponized against its own sectors of the economy across this country. That’s not the way it should work.”

He said his agency needs to get back to stewardship of the environment rather than issuing prohibitions against certain activity.

Pruitt went on say that his agency would be cooperative with the states in taking commonsense approaches that give the state leeway in making cost-effective decisions — a refreshing return to the concept of federalism.

“We recognized that you in Nevada recognize that you care about the air that you breath, the water you drink and how you take care of your land in the state,” the Elko paper quoted Pruitt as saying. “Having a rule that was punitive, weaponized against the mining sector, was not a reason to have the rule, so we stopped the rule.”

Pruitt’s approach to looking at the facts and the law instead of vague presumptions based on unproven theories is sending the climate change acolytes into paroxysms of apoplexy.

In that earlier interview, he was quoted as saying, “There are things we know and things we don’t know. I think it’s pretty arrogant for people in 2018 to say, ‘We know what the ideal surface temperature should be in the year 2100,’” adding that the debate about proper carbon dioxide levels is important but not the most pressing matter in the near future.

We appreciate and applaud the commonsense and constitutional approach enunciated by this member of the executive branch. It is good for the economy, the environment and the country.

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.


8 comments on “Editorial: Head of EPA bemoans ‘weaponization’ of his agency

  1. Bill says:

    Commonsense and Constitutional are words not contained in the Left’s lexicon.

  2. A.D. Hopkins says:

    I find some hope here.

  3. Rincon says:

    Anyone who is ignorant enough to deny the risk of global warming is also ignorant enough to say just about anything the fossil fuel interests want him to say; therefore, his words are not to be trusted. In particular, so far as I can see, he has completely failed to specify just how coal, a fuel that continues to directly contribute to a great many deaths through the pollution of our air, laces our waterways with large quantities of methyl mercury, frequently poisons our waterways through runoff and creates vast tracts of unusable land, has been unfairly singled out. Notice I left out it’s status as the dirtiest possible fuel in terms of global warming for benefit of the flat Earth folks among you.

    According to the Washington Post, the entire coal industry employs fewer people than Arby’s – 76, 572, Since we routinely create more than 150,000 new jobs every month in this country, it’s difficult to understand why this now minor industry deserves special protection in light of the damage it causes.. No reason to regulate coal to death anyway. Just get rid of its subsidies and it will die a quiet, natural death on its own. This is because the greatest damage to the coal industry comes not from the EPA, but from cheap natural gas.

    This issue that deserves to be a nonissue is another example of fake news polarizing our politics. We owe special thanks to the Koch brothers and their ilk for this.

  4. Rincon says:

    Sorry Steve. Instead of subsidies, I meant to say subsidies AND tax benefits in respect of your strong belief that a tax benefit is not equivalent to a subsidy.

  5. deleted says:

    Funny thing about conservatives and government;

    if this had been a democratic appointee, spending money like a drunken sailor (and on the most unrelated things like a $25,000 “cone of silence”, EPA employees that are intended to function as primary investigators of environmental violators, instead being assigned as body guards, first class airline travel (of course I mean why shouldn’t a republican appointee travel first class right?)) and if instead of meeting with the vey guys, whose industries he was charged to regulate, this administrator was meeting (in Moracco for crying out loud) with a bunch of tree huggers, imagine the outrage from conservatives?

    Instead, we get…the above stuff, near cheers to my ears. Crazy world we live in.

    “For someone whose entire political career has been built on an animosity to Washington, D.C., Scott Pruitt certainly appears to have enjoyed the past 12 months of federal employ. He has been to Morocco, where he shilled American natural gas. There was also a trip to a golf resort in Naples, Florida, for a meeting of the National Mining Association. And to lovely Kiawah Island, off the South Carolina coast, to join a retreat of the American Chemistry Council. Some bureaucrats may be relegated to the sad desk lunch, but Pruitt is not among them. When executives from a coal company were in town, they took Pruitt to BLT Prime, the restaurant at the Trump International Hotel that is the unofficial clubhouse of the Make America Great Again crowd.”


  6. deleted says:

    Well, apparently a message got through and I fear for our environment now because Pruitt cancelled his planned trip to Israel, where I’m sure untold information regarding how the environment in the US could have otherwise been obtained. And surely, that information could not have been obtained unless he went first class, and stayed at the best hotels.

    “Pruitt had been scheduled to arrive in Israel on Sunday and remain in Jerusalem until Thursday to meet with officials to discuss Israel’s infrastructure and environmental challenges, the Post reported.
    According to Israeli officials who spoke to the newspaper, the EPA head was planning to stay in the storied King David Hotel.”


  7. Steve says:

    I thought some here might be interested in the economic impact of regulations, at least major ones, like the ones the EPA is supposed to be enforcing. Does some serious damage to the typical a conservative line though.

    “The Trump administration report says that from fiscal 2007 through 2016 the annual economic benefits of major rulemakings reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were estimated to be between $287 billion and $911 billion.

    The report found that from Oct. 1, 2006, to Sept. 30, 2016, the annual benefits of regulations outweighed the annual costs, which were estimated to be between $78 billion and $115 billion in 2015 dollars.”

    10 years where the positive annual benefit, to this country’s (minus the annual costs) of between 6 billion and 80 billion dollars per year.


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