December 15, 2016 at 5:00 am ET
Amid the hand-wringing and name-calling about the nomination of Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator, I would like to offer my observations about why Pruitt is the ideal leader for an agency that under the current administration has flagrantly forced an activist agenda on states.
As the head of a state environmental department with two decades of experience enforcing environmental protection laws, I am disappointed by the attacks on Pruitt’s views. The extreme environmentalist left is distorting his mainstream views because they want to bully Americans into their job-killing climate change agenda. Americans overwhelmingly rejected this outlook in November.
Like President-elect Donald Trump, Pruitt is committed to clean air and clean water, and to restoring EPA to its original mission of enforcing the environmental laws written by Congress. He has laid out a view that human activities do impact the climate, and we should be encouraging a healthy debate over the government’s proper role in addressing them rather than trying to shut down the discussion.
As a state attorney general, Pruitt has seen the real-world consequences of the EPA’s unlawful regulations, and North Carolina was proud to join Oklahoma in taking on tough fights on behalf of states who are being overrun by federal overreach. Pruitt has been a national leader in fighting back against President Barack Obama’s various job-killing and unconstitutional regulations including those related to the war on coal and the Waters of the United States rule.
When the EPA attempted to expand the federal government’s power over nearly every puddle and pond in the country, Pruitt led efforts along with North Carolina and more than two dozen other states to successfully block the attempt to redefine what “navigable” water means under the Clean Water Act. Pruitt fought the rule to protect farmers, property owners and economic development from being subjected to onerous, costly and unnecessary federal regulation that would drive down property values, impede development, and hinder the ability of farmers to work their land.
Pruitt also led a coalition of states to challenge the Clean Power Plan — a scheme that would ostensibly reduce greenhouse gas emissions — but would in fact drive up energy costs for industry and consumers while doing little to protect the environment. Pruitt knows the federal agency has an appropriate role in environmental protection but also understands that state governments have demonstrated the ability to implement environmental protections without destroying the very thing that makes environmental protection possible: a strong economy.
This experience has prepared Pruitt to enact Trump’s energy plan, which will protect clean air and clean water and unleash an energy revolution that will bring millions of new jobs and higher wages to this country. He supports American energy producers and believes that our domestic energy revolution will create jobs and bring new wealth to the American people. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, he pushed for protections for local oil and gas producers to ensure they weren’t being infringed upon by an overbearing regulatory state. But he also demonstrated his willingness to sue oil and gas producers when they polluted in his own state.
Pruitt understands that a balanced approach to regulation that manages our natural resources and protects the environment can also foster economic growth and protect state and local rights. At the direction of President-elect Trump, Pruitt will restore a thoughtful balance to EPA and will seek to preserve the environment in a responsible manner that will not unduly sacrifice our nation’s economic well-being to appease the extreme left.
Donald R. van der Vaart is the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.
Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in our coverage areas. Submission guidelines can be found here.