In the United States, politics and rule of law have been plagued by the issue of state’s rights versus the rights of the federal government since the Civil War. Any cause, no matter how noble, cannot be pushed by the activist agendas of federal agencies due to the threat of imposing on the rights of the states and their citizens. Over the past decade, Scott Pruitt, former Oklahoma Attorney General and current head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has protected the rights of the states by regularly suing the EPA, working closely with major industries, and vowing to loosen the stranglehold that the EPA has on the American economy.
Since the EPA was founded in 1970, the agency has grown to become one of the most influential agencies in recent times. This is largely due to the increasing debate over climate change and the impacts that it could potentially have in the near future. With this debate has come a clear overstep of boundaries. Over the past two decades, the EPA has tried to limit the footprint that we, as a country, are leaving. These limitations came in the form of the Clean Power Plan and the Clean Water Act, as well as many others. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA to limit their growing power and stranglehold on the US economy. Pruitt also joined together with other Republican attorney generals in opposing the Clean Power Plan, which seeks to “limit planet-warming carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants” (Roberts). While the Clean Power Plan sounds like a positive limitation, it actually has several unintended negative drawbacks. The Clean Power Plan, Pruitt argues, “could trample the sovereignty of state governments, drive up electricity rates, threaten the reliability of the nation’s power grid and create economic havoc” (Roberts). It’s a good thing that Pruitt is in charge now, because all of these economic and political uncertainties obviously greatly outweigh the scientifically proven, gradual heating of our planet. Furthermore, the importance that Pruitt places on maintaining state sovereignty is the noblest of causes.
In a way, Scott Pruitt’s advocacy for state sovereignty and cooperation with industry go hand-in-hand. His relationships with big industry companies date back to his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general. During his tenure, Pruitt “put cooperation with industry before confrontation as he sought to blunt the impact of federal environmental policies in his state” (Lipton). While some fact-driven, radical liberals saw this cooperation with industry as a giant middle finger to Oklahoma’s citizens and the environment, Mr. Pruitt was simply looking out for the best interests of Oklahoma’s workers, agricultural economy, and industrial output. By limiting the regulations that would be placed by the EPA, Pruitt enabled more factories and processing plants to open, which resulted in more jobs for the people of Oklahoma. In addition, by reducing limits on production, agricultural and industrial companies were able to maximize profits. These profits would eventually benefit the people of Oklahoma once again, this time through pay raises and expansion. Now, as head of the EPA, Pruitt hopes to do the same thing for the rest of the United States, while also working to limit the negative impacts that the EPA has had on industry over the past 8 years. In a statement this past December, President Trump is quoted saying, “For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn” (Roberts). Despite the ongoing conversation regarding global warming, limiting production and our overall industrial output have both had diverse negative impacts on the American economy. Scott Pruitt, Trump says, “will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe” (Roberts). Overall, the appointment of Pruitt as head of the EPA will have positive repercussions, both economic and political.
In the past, the EPA has stifled state economies through regulations. While these regulations ensured reduced fossil-fuel emissions and benefited the EPA’s activist agenda, they slowly but surely gave the EPA an unbalanced stranglehold on the economy. While this seems quite innocent, it is actually a blatant overstep of boundaries. Over the past eight years, the EPA has “earned its reputation as the most lawless executive agency…it has again and again painted far outside the lines of its legal authority under statutes passed by Congress” (Rutledge). With his cooperation with industries and his constant resistance to EPA regulations, Scott Pruitt has already done more than enough to reduce the negative effects that the EPA is having on the US economy. When the EPA has acted in excess of its legal authority, “adopting unnecessary and arbitrary rules that do incredibly little to aid the environment while doing a lot to harm the economy,” Pruitt has been strong in fighting the agency which he now leads (Rutledge). However, there is still a lot of work to be done. As head of the EPA, Pruitt will restructure the “unpredictable, unsound and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA” into a more balanced and reasonable agency (Roberts).
While the Environmental Protection Agency may seem like one of the most effective and well-run federal agencies, Scott Pruitt has brought the many flaws of the agency to light. Through his repetitive suing of the EPA, ongoing cooperation with industry, and focus on the economy, Pruitt has protected the sovereignty of the states. Moving forward, as head of the EPA, Pruitt provides the agency with a much-needed change. While some people believe that Pruitt is against the core values held by the EPA, he really just wants to make it run more efficiently, for the people and for the United States.
***DISCLAIMER*** I do not personally agree with the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA, nor do I agree with any of the opinions expressed in this paper.
Lipton, Eric, and Coral Davenport. “Scott Pruitt, Trump’s E.P.A. Pick, Backed Industry Donors Over Regulators.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Jan. 2017. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.
Roberts, John. “Trump to nominate EPA critic Pruitt to lead agency.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 8 Dec. 2016. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.
Rutledge, Leslie. “Arkansas Attorney General: Why Scott Pruitt is the right choice for the EPA.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 15 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2017.