On Friday, February 17th, the Senate voted along party lines to confirm Scott Pruitt as the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The former Oklahoma Attorney General has been an outspoken opponent of the prior administration’s EPA, even bringing lawsuits against the agency for Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act regulations, including the Waters of the U.S. rule the Clean Water Council also opposes.
On the following Tuesday, Pruitt addressed the EPA’s workforce, hundreds of which actively fought his confirmation. “We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and we can be pro-environment, and we don’t have to choose between the two,” Pruitt said.
As administrator, Pruitt will have the opportunity to undo significant bureaucracy that slow down, in some cases for years, projects designed to fight pollution, clean water, and make greater use and efficiency of our water resources. Hampering the progress of water infrastructure by excessive, unnecessary, and counter-intuitive reports and regulations, as has been the position of previous EPA era officials, only exacerbates the environmental harm being done currently.
Lessening regulations to allow water infrastructure projects to move forward more quickly and easily will help eliminate wastewater pipes polluting the ground, clean the water systems that provide drinking water to our schools and hospitals, and other environmental threats that are currently happening across our country. Making projects designed to mitigate these ailments more difficult, as regulations have become, only makes matters worse.
Nevertheless, Pruitt will have to deal with a hostile, and possibly insubordinate staff in order to begin rescinding or replacing previous rules, making the new administrators task of helping the environment much more difficult.
We, at the Clean Water Council, believe that environmental precautions make sense for everyone when they are logical and meet a clearly stated objective. We want clean water, but in order to do that we have to be able to build clean water systems.