We read the painful stories in the Sunday papers so you don’t have to. Today a story about the corporate takeover of the Environmental Protection agency.
It’s common for pundits to ridicule the Trump administration and Congress for pretty much zero major accomplishments over the past six months aside from a new Supreme Court justice. What’s not as evident, however, according to a New York Times article is “While much of Mr. Trump’s policy agenda is mired in legal and legislative delays, hampered by poor execution and overshadowed by the Russia investigations, the E.P.A. is acting.”
Acting to do what?
Since February, Mr. Pruitt has filed a proposal of intent to undo or weaken Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations, known as the Clean Power Plan. In late June, he filed a legal plan to repeal an Obama-era rule curbing pollution in the nation’s waterways. He delayed a rule that would require fossil fuel companies to rein in leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from oil and gas wells. He delayed the date by which companies must comply with a rule to prevent explosions and spills at chemical plants. And he reversed a ban on the use of a pesticide that the E.P.A.’s own scientists have said is linked to damage of children’s nervous systems.
Instead of doing a full piece on Pruitt, I’m going to take the easy route and just list some excerpts below. (Even the staff at Confined Space world headquarters need a break sometimes.) You can read the article if you have the time and peace of mind.
On Pritt’s skill (compared to most of the other dundersheads Trump has appointed):
“Just the number of environmental rollbacks in this time frame is astounding,” said Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard. “Pruitt has come in with a real mission. He is much more organized, much more focused than the other cabinet-level officials, who have not really taken charge of their agencies. It’s very striking how much they’ve done.”
Mr. Pruitt’s main source of counsel on industry regulations appears to be the industries he regulates.
And he does all of this damage without the input of EPA’s 15,000 person staff:
Instead, Mr. Pruitt has outsourced crucial work to a network of lawyers, lobbyists and other allies, especially Republican state attorneys general, a network he worked with closely as the head of the Republican Attorneys General Association. Since 2013, the group has collected $4.2 million from fossil fuel-related companies like Exxon Mobil, Koch Industries, Murray Energy and Southern Company, businesses that also worked closely with Mr. Pruitt in many of the 14 lawsuits he filed against the E.P.A.
Mr. Pruitt’s main source of counsel on industry regulations appears to be the industries he regulates. An excerpt from his calendar for Feb. 21 to March 31, acquired through the Freedom of Information Act by the energy trade publication E & E News, details multiple meetings with chief executives and lobbyists from oil, gas, chemical, agribusiness and other industries regulated by the E.P.A., as well as with Mr. Pruitt’s personally appointed political staff — but few meetings with career employees or environmental groups.
And a few political appointees:
Within the agency, Mr. Pruitt relies on the counsel of a small network of political appointees, including a number of former lobbyists and senior industry officials. For example, he tapped Nancy Beck, previously a policy director for the American Chemistry Council, which lobbies on behalf of companies such as Dow and DuPont, to oversee the E.P.A. office charged with enforcing regulations on hazardous chemicals.
So what does this amount to?
“It amounts to a corporate takeover of the agency, in its decision- and policy-making functions,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group.
You can read the entire article here, if you have the stomach.