Scott Pruitt: Let’s Return To ‘EPA Originalism’ and ‘Cooperative Federalism’

The days of an adversarial and overbearing EPA are over.

In the Trump Administration, the turn will be towards a more collaborative and cooperative approach with the states, along with a return to the original legislative intent of the Environmental Protection Agency.

During an exclusive interview with The Federalist Papers Project, Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s new head of the EPA, discussed where he sees the agency headed under his direction – and it’s a far cry from the agency under Barack Obama.

Rather, Pruitt discussed a “cooperative federalism” where the states work alongside the federal government to solve environmental problems, rather than an adversarial approach.

“I believe in having a mission at this agency that’s going to be focused on state partnerships, where states are relied upon as opposed to being seen as adversaries,” he said. “When you look at the EPA budget and the scope of the EPA as it relates to the states, having a robust partnership with the states is essential. And we’ve already begun that journey.”

This is a far cry from the EPA of the Obama era. Their unilateral decision in 2009 that they would be regulating greenhouse gasses as “dangerous pollutants” was seen as a way for unelected bureaucrats to take “command and control” of the U.S. economy. Since carbon dioxide is technically a “greenhouse gas,” that would mean the EPA could regulate everything that emits the gas – from heaters to lawnmowers to farms to, yes – our own breath.

That kind of micromanagement is over.

Pruitt said the EPA needs to recognize the role that the states have in working with the federal government. It’s a “cooperative federalism” that he’s trying to achieve.

“Working with states and cities and towns across the country, to collaborate and work on compliance rather than just punishment,” he said. “Staying within the confines of the statute, playing by the rule of law, making sure the states have a voice in the process and being focused on goals and achievements that are measurable.”

Pruitt said that even with proposed budget cuts and a return to “EPA originalism,” the agency can still accomplish its goals.

“We can be pro-environment and pro-environmental outcomes and still be pro-growth,” he said. “We can do both.” The key, he said, is setting goals.

“It’s important that we get back to EPA originalism,” he said. “That we get back to the core of what we do and do it well.” Among those is providing regulatory certainty. Some permits languish at the epa for as long as a decade. “We shouldn’t have that,” he said.

Pruitt mentioned Superfund remediation as an important project that can be done collaboratively.

“We’ve got approximately 1,300 superfund sites in the U.S. – some have languished for decades. “We need to go into those sites with a detailed and focused plan.”