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Pruitt: EPA is Focused on Rule of Law and Cooperative Federalism

EPA Administrator Pruitt told a House subcommittee that the agency will focus on three big issues.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt laid out his vision for his agency at a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday, saying the EPA will focus on the rule of law and cooperative federalism. He expressed confidence that the EPA can accomplish these goals on a “trimmed budget.”

“We’re reversing an attitude and approach that one can simply reimagine authority under statutes passed by this body,” Pruitt said.

“I firmly believe that federal agencies exist to administer the laws as passed by Congress,” Pruitt said. “It is Congress who has the constitutional authority to pass statutes and give the agency the direction on the environmental objectives that we seek to achieve as a nation.”

For years, conservatives have expressed concern that federal agencies have surpassed their constitutional authority with the invention of new regulations. Pruitt’s comments reflect this concern, and he promised to hold the agency within constitutional bounds.

Pruitt emphasized the need for what he describes as “cooperative federalism” in the relationship between the agency and the states.

“A one-size-fits-all strategy to achieve environmental outcomes doesn’t work. What may work in Arizona may not work in Tennessee,” the administrator said.

“The EPA should only intervene when states demonstrate an unwillingness to comply with the law or do their job with regard to keeping their water safe and clean,” Pruitt added.

Pruitt also said that the EPA will focus on “process,” meaning that the administration will enforce its regulations in appropriate ways.

“Regulation through litigation is something that we will not continue at the EPA,” he explained.

The EPA can achieve these three objectives with a slimmer budget under the Trump administration, Pruitt said. He then highlighted the environmental progress the United States had made since the inauguration of the EPA.