EPA’s Pruitt moves to the center of power
Playing a key role in Trump’s decision to exit the Paris climate accord, the former Oklahoma attorney general has emerged as one of the most influential policy architects in the president’s cabinet By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis / The Washington Post WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has emerged as one of the most influential policy architects in the president’s Cabinet, a skilled and sometimes brash lawyer who is methodically taking apart a slew of regulations and agreements affecting everything from manufacturing operations to landfills.
Many of these actions remain a work in progress: It will take years for the United States to exit the Paris climate accord, as Trump announced Thursday, and EPA officials have just begun to rewrite many of the rules he has vowed to scrap.
Jeremy Symons, associate vice president of climate political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group, said that while Pruitt would appear “to be too far removed from the center of power,” he has already had an outsized impact.
Pruitt is better positioned to make headway than other Cabinet members, because so many of President Barack Obama’s climate policies were advanced through executive actions rather than legislation.
At the outset of the administration, the lawyer explained, Pruitt sought to soften the budget ax and get more political appointees on board by acting conciliatory toward other senior administration officials.
The administrator is pursuing a similar strategy to what he did in Oklahoma when suing EPA on 14 different fronts, Walke said.
That’s the easy part.
But there have been many other policy reversals.
The agency is also seeking to delay oral arguments in two cases challenging EPA’s 2012 standard for air toxins from power plants as well as its 2015 smog rule.
Without question, Pruitt has a narrower view of EPA’s role than both his Democratic and Republican predecessors.