The administration of President Donald Trump is not going to use the regulatory powers of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to pick "winners and losers" among Americans, said the agency's new administrator Scott Pruitt.
In an article in The Washington Times on Tuesday, Pruitt said the executive order Trump signed in late March rolling back former President Barack Obama's regulations served as a declaration that the "war on coal is over" and Americans could expect the agency to "focus on its mission and deliver real results."
"President Trump made it clear that we should put America first. We are not going to allow EPA to pick winners and losers through regulation," the former Oklahoma attorney general said.
When Trump signed the order, flanked by coal miners, it served as "a moment in which a promise became an economic reality."
Pruitt said he immediately directed his agency to comply with the order, signing four new rules that included a review of the Clean Power Plan.
Pruitt wrote the "war on coal" was an attempt by the Obama administration to craft regulations "aimed at removing coal from our nation’s energy mix." The result, he explained, was that it "divided Americans and strengthened Washington’s grip on our economy."
However, halting those regulations would put an end to that divide.
"Thankfully, President Trump has made clear: The regulatory assault on American workers is over. We should not have to choose between supporting jobs and supporting the environment," he wrote.
Pruitt then explained why critics who claim Trump's order meant the administration was turning a blind eye to a clean environment were wrong.
First, because of lawsuits by several states, the Clean Power Plan was never implemented.
However, he said Obama officials still demanded compliance while cases were being litigated, which resulted in "lost jobs and an uncertain regulatory environment, without any environmental gain to show for it."
Second, the Clean Power Plan was never aimed at showing significant gains in making for a cleaner environment, promising only "a reduction of sea level rise by the thickness of two sheets of paper and reduction of atmospheric CO2 concentrations by 0.2 percent by 2100, according to an analysis by the National Economic Research Associates."
Third, the stated goal of the previous EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, was "far less about achieving a measurable result than it was about providing leadership in the world," even though the regulations held no sway over the actions of other countries.
On all three counts, Pruitt maintained "the Clean Power Plan failed."
Pruitt said his agency would now focus on measurable goals.
"EPA should work within the framework that Congress has established. And we should provide regulatory certainty and write rules that make sense for the states and the businesses they affect," he wrote.
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