Politico has an article which might relieve some of us who are infuriated with EPA’s Scott Pruitt as much for the regulations he’s trying to roll back as for his dishonesty and lack of ethics. It’s titled The Myth of Scott Pruitt’s EPA Rollback, and it explains that despite the seemingly daily press release from EPA announcing another Obama-era rule being overturned, it’s not that simple. Rules and regs take years to write and are subject to public comment periods of months, and reversing them requires the same thing with litigation added to the mix.
That’s not to say he hasn’t done serious harm, because he has.
It’s true that Pruitt has had some success transforming how the EPA pursues its mission, communicates with the public and enforces its rules. He has used his discretionary powers to give factories more deference when they apply for permits, states more control of their air quality compliance and industry-friendly officials more sway on EPA’s science advisory boards. He’s sent a clear message throughout the agency to be more accommodating to businesses, a message that has helped persuade hundreds of its career public servants to retire. And he has abruptly halted the EPA’s focus on combating climate change, its top priority in the Obama years. He was the leading internal advocate for Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, although the withdrawal won’t take effect until November 2020, so it probably won’t stick if Trump doesn’t get reelected.
The elimination of regulations may take so long he’ll be out of his job before the discussion stage has gotten truly started.
Pruitt’s problem is that major federal regulations are extremely difficult and time-consuming to enact, and just as difficult and time-consuming to reverse. The rulemaking process can take years of technical and administrative work that Pruitt and his team have not yet had time to do.
Despite the claims from his PR shop, he’s not gotten nearly as much done as he claims he has, nor is he likely to if he keeps up his propensity to spend taxpayers’ money like water.