Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt accused the Obama administration of using the agency as a blunt instrument to pound energy producers for exploiting the country’s natural resources.
“The agency took a perspective for a number of years that is prohibition,” Pruitt said Friday in an interview with The New York Times. He was specifically referencing former President Barack Obama’s penchant for supposedly prohibiting various types of fossil fuel production.
“And so in some respects … the rulemaking that was being deployed by the agency was weaponized in the sense it was picking winners and losers,” said Pruitt, who has consistently railed against the regulations Obama heaped on the coal and oil industry.
Analysts and activists have leveled similar complaints against Pruitt, who famously sued the EPA more than a dozen times during the Obama years. The agency under President Donald Trump’s tutelage has sought to prop up some aspects of the coal industry while pulling back on green energy policies.
Pruitt has criticized Obama in the past for focusing too narrowly on tackling global warming and not enough on state and local ecological disasters.
“Everyone looks at the Obama administration as being the environmental savior. Really? He was the environmental savior?” Pruitt asked a reporter last year before rattling off a list of examples where Obama’s EPA stumbled on environmental matters.
“Well, he left us with more Superfund sites than when he came in,” he said of Obama’s EPA. “He had Gold King [the 2015 mine wastewater spill] and Flint, Michigan [drinking water crisis]. He tried to regulate CO2 twice and flunked twice. Struck out. So, what’s so great about that record? I don’t know.”
Pruitt was referring to toxic waste sites folded into the government’s Superfund program that is intended to clean the most dangerous and polluted places in the U.S. The agency has either been unable or unwilling to decontaminate many of the program’s 1,300 locations, allowing pollution to fester.
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