A former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official believes the Trump administration will go even further than the Reagan administration in terms of curbing the agency’s power over the economy.
“It looks like Pruitt and the Congress and this administration are undoing EPA and their regulations,” Jovita Pajarillo, the former assistant director of EPA Region 9’s water division, told Business Insider Sunday.
“Reagan had tried it in the past,” Pajarillo said, “but I think this administration is going to go farther.”
Pajarillo’s comments were featured in a Business Insider rundown of the direction EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had taken the agency in his first 100 days on the job. The article cites anonymous EPA employees and former officials, mostly giving a negative take on Pruitt’s reign.
BI even compared Pruitt’s leadership to that of former EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch — whose son, Neil, now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. Former President Ronald Reagan appointed Gorsuch to rein in the EPA during his first term, but she only lasted 22 months before scandal broke out and she was forced to resign.
Gorsuch, the first female EPA chief, was reviled by many at the agency who referred to her as the “Ice Queen,” according to BI. Reagan replaced her with Nixon’s EPA chief William Ruckelshaus.
EPA’s budget was slashed nearly 25 percent under Reagan, according to BI. President Donald Trump proposed cutting EPA’s budget 31 percent and reduce its workforce by 3,200 positions.
BI’s take on Pruitt came out after a lengthy New York Times expose on how the new administrator’s tenure has already benefitted a longtime ally, Devon Energy. The article was sharply critical of the Trump administration’s rollback of Obama-era regulations.
NYT cast Pruitt as part of Trump’s plan to “fundamentally reorder the relationship between government and business.”
The media’s negative take of Pruitt shouldn’t come as a surprise. Reports surfaced of EPA employees coming to work in tears and setting up encrypted lines of communication to oppose Pruitt’s carrying out of Trump policies.
But conservatives and businesses have largely supported Trump’s rolling back of Obama administration regulations on pollution and global warming.
Trump ordered EPA to review, and possibly rescind, the Clean Power Plan, which set carbon dioxide emissions limits for existing power plants.
Some on the right, however, don’t think Pruitt and the Trump administration have gone far enough.
Myron Ebell, Trump’s former EPA transition team leader and head of energy and environment policy at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), criticized the administration for its dithering on the Paris agreement and endangerment finding.
“Paris and the endangerment finding are the two big outstanding issues. It’s the first wave of things that are necessary to turn this country around, particularly in the heartland states,” Ebell said at a recent conference.
Trump promised to pull out of the Paris agreement while on the campaign trail. Now, the White House is considering staying party to the agreement, which commits signatories to voluntarily reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Obama joined the Paris agreement in 2016.
CEI has filed a petition with EPA to review the endangerment finding. The Obama administration issued the finding in 2009, which gave EPA the legal authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Obama’s whole global warming agenda hinges on this document.
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