The radical idea behind Trump’s EPA rollbacks
But it would abandon the Obama administration’s climate regulations, along with other efforts that Pruitt argues exceed the agency’s legal authority.
But several former EPA chiefs say Pruitt and Trump have it wrong — and that the agency’s mission was never as narrow as the current administration wants it to be.
Water pollution is a huge issue and very important and you need to work on it, but it’s not the only issue.
Air is an issue too.
“We’re going to improve the environment in this country, protect our water, protect our air, but at the same time do it the American way,” Pruitt said in an April speech at a coal mine in Sycamore, Pa. “Grow jobs and show the rest of the world that we can achieve it.” But the powers of the EPA administrator are limited: While he or she can have huge influence over the agency’s direction, Congress has laid out its scope and responsibilities in laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.
Jorling, who filed a court brief last year defending the Obama EPA’s landmark climate regulation, accused Pruitt of being “disingenuous" by focusing the agency on a limited set of priorities.
States say Superfund sites are big issues in their communities, said Thomas, the former Reagan administration EPA leader, but the risks of climate change are "significantly higher."
Meanwhile, the rollbacks under Pruitt go well beyond climate change.
“But over time and particularly in the Obama administration, they have taken on a whole lot of things which are entirely discretionary, that they don’t have to do, they’re not required by law to do it, but they decided to do it anyway,” Ebell added.
For example, the Clean Air Act included a catch-all provision, Section 111, that allowed the agency to address newly discovered pollutants not covered elsewhere in the law.