WASHINGTON, D.C. — President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to offer a drastically different approach to the job. Scott Pruitt comes to the position having served as the Oklahoma Attorney General. Pruitt has been part of the multi-state team which has battled recent regulations from the federal agency like the Clean Power Plan.
He faces confirmation in the Senate and U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin recently got a chance to talk to him about the position. Capito, speaking in a recent edition of MetroNews Talkline, said it’s not her first meeting with Pruitt. He testified previously before Senate committees on the impact of the Clean Power Plan and other regulations handed down from the agency under the Obama Administration. Capito believes with Pruitt in charge, state’s will have a much better chance at airing grievances over federal regulation.
“He’s from Oklahoma and they have a lot of natural gas and oil, but they also have a lot of wind and renewables at the same time. Obviously coal is going to be a principle part of the discussion and the regulatory environment around it,” said Capito. “I’m hoping we’re going to talk about weaving the environment around the economy and finding a way to meet dual goals here.”
Capito has been an ardent critic of the Obama Administration’s EPA and regulations handed down from the top. She said the agency had little regard for the state’s reaction to those regulations or the impact caused to industry and the local economy where they were implemented.
During the presidential campaign, Trump advocated a rollback to a lot of the Obama Administration programs, many of which placed the coal industry in dire straights. Some think however, a simple striking of the regs won’t be as easy as some think since those programs are already up and running. Capito disagreed.
“I don’t believe it’s set too far in motion,” she said. “I think he (Pruitt) is going to have a president who is like-minded and wants to give him the flexibility and ability to take control of the agency and the regulations at the same time.”
Senator Manchin came away from his conversation with Pruitt thinking there is common ground which will help West Virginia in the regulatory area.
“Attorney General Pruitt and I had a very productive conversation about his plans for the Environmental Protection Agency and ways we can work together. We both come from energy producing states and have a great deal in common.” said Manchin in a statement following the meeting. “He committed to visiting West Virginia and working with me on some of the clean water challenges that we have experienced in recent years in cities like Vienna, Parkersburg and Charleston. I believe the Attorney General has the right experience for the position and look forward to his confirmation process.”
Capito’s chief criticism of current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other EPA leaders under the Obama Administration has been a refusal to consider the economic impact of regulations as they are being crafted.
“I don’t have one ax to grind with her personally, I actually find her a very engaging person,” said Capito of McCarthy. “But she wouldn’t even come to West Virginia to hear the angst and the results of the regulatory environment she’s advocated and has said is immovable. I wish her well and I’m glad she is leaving.”