Pruitt says he’s ‘transformational’ at liberal agency

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, June 11, 2018

DENVER — Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt acknowledged Friday night that he doesn’t care if he is seen as a controversial figure within the Trump administration, just as long as his adversaries know he’s “consequential.”

In the midst of a daylong media blitz that included stops at two conservative Christian events — the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference in Washington, D.C., and the Western Conservative Summit here in Colorado — Pruitt suggested that President Trump supports his leadership style at EPA despite an ever-growing string of ethics allegations.

“The president gets it. He understands we are living in a transformational time,” Pruitt told 710 KNUS talk radio in an interview conducted at Colorado’s Convention Center.

In remarks to reporters on the White House South Lawn on Friday morning, Trump endorsed Pruitt’s “great job” despite being “attacked very viciously by the press.”

“I’m not saying he’s blameless, but we’ll see what happens,” Trump said, in an apparent reference to allegations that include Pruitt’s misuse of his 24/7 security detail to run errands like picking up his dry cleaning and searching for moisturizing lotion (Greenwire, June 8).

Asked about being a “controversial figure” by KNUS radio host Steffan Tubbs, Pruitt interjected, “And consequential!”

Pruitt repeatedly praised Trump throughout his various appearances on Friday, including calling the president “a man of courage” and “a man of results” during his radio interview before returning to his own job performance.

“When you look at what’s going on at the EPA, that agency has been a bastion of liberalism for years and years and years,” Pruitt said. “So what is surprising to folks is that we’re making changes — substantial changes, transformative changes. Big criticism obviously is ensuing.”

Pruitt added: “Look, we’re just going to keep focused. The president has been outstanding at leading this agenda.”

Pruitt also slammed his predecessors for having “weaponized” his agency.

“We have so much opportunity at the EPA to get things right,” Pruitt told KNUS. “The agency was weaponized historically against sectors of our economy: weaponized against fossil fuels, weaponized against farmers and ranchers, weaponized against several folks.”

He continued: “And it was all about Washington and not about people across the country. The president gets that, I get that; that’s why you see a combustible situation.”

In his 20-minute keynote address to the Western Conservative Summit, Pruitt also continued his commendation of Trump, saying: “We are safer today because of President Trump, and we are more prosperous today.”

Pruitt also cast blame on the Obama administration for pursuing the Waters of the U.S. rule, the Clean Power Plan and the “war on coal,” as well as touting Trump’s decision to withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

“We should make things regular for all those that we regulate, to make sure we do it consistent with the rule of law, and not try to favor one over the other,” Pruitt said.

During both his addresses on Friday, Pruitt touted the nation’s “tremendous natural resources,” arguing that seeking alternative energy sources is akin to “prohibition.”

“We as an American people need to ask and answer the question, ‘What is true environmentalism?'” Pruitt said at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Conference. “Because there have been those in town for the last decade or so that have told us that the answer to that question is prohibition, that though we have all these natural resources we’ve been blessed with, we should put up fences and do not touch.”

He continued: “Now, I believe to whom much is given, much is required.”

Ahead of Pruitt’s remarks in Denver, a small crowd of protesters gathered outside the Colorado Convention Center, most of whom held signs criticizing the Trump administration and its immigration policies.

But one man, identified by the Western Energy Alliance’s Western Wire as former Colorado Public Utilities Commission Chairman Ron Binz, protested with a poster stating “Pruitt = Swamp Thing.”

“As long as we have this administration in place, we are going to have disappointment with the EPA,” Binz told the publication.

President Obama nominated Binz to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but he withdrew his name following opposition from the fossil fuel industry and free-market organizations (Greenwire, Oct. 7, 2013).

Binz added: “Scott Pruitt is a finger in the eye, and more so than anyone else I could name.”