Breathing Easier While Pelosi Chokes

Thursday, December 08, 2016

No sooner do I raise an eyebrow about the president-elect's meeting with Al Gore, than he causes a tizzy on the left by naming one Scott Pruitt as his choice to head the EPA. But who is Scott Pruitt? "Racist Climate Denier," along with anything else from the left, is entirely devoid of meaning, whether because it is a smear or a boy crying wolf. And, as of this morning, Wikipedia wasn't that helpful regarding either his qualifications to run a government agency or what he might do with such authority, once he had it.

But I found the following from a piece in the Weekly Standard about Oklahoma's Attorney General:

[Pruitt] has challenged the EPA's practice of going far beyond its authority to attack the energy industry and thus affect practically every industry in the country. The EPA needs a leash, and Pruitt and other state attorneys general have gone to court to attach it.

Pruitt, 48, is a sharp critic of President Obama's "exceeding" of federal law in environmental and other cases. "He's kept his promise that Washington knows best," Pruitt told me in 2013. But Obama's executive orders are "not consistent with our Constitution and our rule of law."

He and Greg Abbott, then AG of Texas and now the state's governor, succeeded in voiding a dubious EPA rule that claimed air pollution from Texas and Oklahoma was harming Granite City, Illinois. In that case and others, EPA's evidence was pretty skimpy.

Even worse in the view of the environmental lobby, Pruitt is a leader in the effort, so far successful, to block the Clean Power Plan and the vast change it would require in how electricity is produced. The plan violates "at least three separate statutory bars and two constitutional limitations on federal powers," Pruitt's lawsuit to overturn the plan says. [bold added]
The piece goes on to note elation on the part of "free-market groups," and that's understandable, given the low bar set by President Obama and the prospect of Hillary Clinton as his successor. However, putting a "leash" on the powerful EPA, is not the same thing as abolishing it, not that I would expect my views to be widely shared among potential appointees for any such office.

So, assuming this is Trump's choice, he sticks with it, the article accurately describes Pruitt's views, and he wins his confirmation battle ... he may be about as good a pick as we can expect. That is, Pruitt might reverse some of the EPA's worst recent excesses, providing us a reprieve from much of the economic damage it is set to wreak. But the EPA looks like it will live to fight, reinvigorated, another day.

I will not complain about breathing room, but I will not call it victory.

-- CAV


Adam Wildavsky said...

Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute suggests devolving the EPA's functions to the states. It would be a good start.

Gus Van Horn said...


That is an interesting proposal, but I think it ultimately replaces one tyranny with many. The only way I could support something like that would be for the roles of the state agencies to be delimited to whatever functions would be necessary to implement whatever laws would be necessary to protect individual rights from being violated by irresponsible parties. As I noted in a column about the Gold King mine spill a while back:

"But did you know that nuisance law had effectively protected property rights such as water quality until it was supplanted by environmental regulations? Or that the EPA can fine companies for pollution violations without proving harm to individuals? ... Ironically some environmentalists, such as those at the Property and Environment Research Center, seem to care more about property rights than most conservatives."

Without a proper delimitation of any such agency, it would potentially do many of the same things the EPA does now.