Pruitt hosts industry leaders to talk rule rollbacks

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 3, 2017

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will host leaders from industry groups representing major sources of greenhouse gas emissions tomorrow to discuss reducing “unnecessary regulatory burden.”

The agency is formally kicking off its new “Smart Sectors” effort today, according to EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman. It comes as the White House is touting regulatory rollbacks this week, beginning with a speech today by President Trump about his efforts to eliminate federal rules. EPA is also preparing to announce its plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s signature climate rule.

The EPA Smart Sectors initiative is intended to “facilitate meaningful collaboration with regulated sectors, sensible policies to improve environmental outcomes, and better EPA practices and streamlined operations,” Bowman said.

She added, “EPA is expecting representation from a wide range of American businesses, representing sectors from across our economy,” at tomorrow’s meeting.

EPA identified a series of industries to be part of the effort in a Federal Register notice published last month (Greenwire, Sept. 25).

Representatives from those industries are expected to attend the meeting tomorrow. The industries are aerospace, agriculture, automotive, cement and concrete, chemical manufacturing, construction, electronics and technology, forestry and paper products, iron and steel, mining, oil and gas, ports and marine, and utilities and power generation.

EPA said those industries were selected “based on each sector’s potential to improve the environment and public health.”

Industry groups are looking forward to telling EPA officials what they want.

“We welcome the opportunity to explain how long-term, capital-intensive operations like ours — which require regulatory predictability — can be carefully aligned with important agency objectives for ensuring health and environmental protection,” National Mining Association CEO Hal Quinn said in a statement.

“Regulatory policies will be more effective when they are informed by actual conditions in regulated sectors,” Quinn said.

Environmentalists say the effort is more evidence that Pruitt is too cozy with industry interests.

“Administrator Pruitt’s latest initiative shows, yet again, his priorities are rolling back health and environmental protections and appeasing corporations. For him, EPA’s actual mission is perfunctory afterthought; his political agenda is serving industry’s wishes,” said John Walke, clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“When will [the] administrator invite in asthma sufferers, Flint, Mich., residents, doctors and climate scientists to explain how he will deliver on the law’s promise of clean air and safe water for all Americans?” Walke said.

The Smart Sectors effort is coming out of EPA’s policy office, run by Samantha Dravis. She was formerly policy director and general counsel at the Republican Attorneys General Association, where she worked with Pruitt during his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general. She has launched a broad restructuring of the agency’s policy shop (Greenwire, Sept. 7).

An EPA contact for the program, according to the Federal Register notice, is Daisy Letendre, a senior adviser for policy and communications in the policy shop. Letendre was previously communications director for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). She was communications director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when Inhofe was chairman of that panel.