Trump ‘knocked it out of the park’ on Paris — Pruitt

Source: Kevin Bogardus, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2018

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said President Trump quitting the Paris climate deal is the accomplishment that he is most proud of since taking office.

“His decision on Paris, knocked it out of the park. He knocked it out of the park,” Pruitt said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “It took so much fortitude, so much courage to do what the president did.”

The EPA chief said the deal was unfair to the United States, arguing that China and India didn’t have to take steps to reduce their carbon output until years later. Pruitt was a leading proponent of withdrawing from the global pact; President Trump announced his intention in June to leave the accord in 2020.

“The Paris accord was never about CO2 reduction. It was a bumper sticker,” Pruitt said. “It was all about putting our economy at a disadvantage, despite the fact that we’re leading the world in CO2 reduction anyway.”

Pruitt, in a question-and-answer session on stage with American Conservative Union Vice Chairman Charlie Gerow, praised the president repeatedly for his leadership during the first year of his administration. Along with cheering Trump’s announcement that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris climate change accord, Pruitt drew comparisons between now and President Reagan’s time in office.

Calling himself “a child of the Reagan revolution,” Pruitt remembered what his father faced in trying to grow his business in the 1970s.

“And then President Reagan came in, and the light started shining, right? I will tell you we’re living in a similar time. President Trump is leading in a time that is so consequential for our future,” Pruitt said. “We’re on the trajectory to see great things for this country. Truly, he is about making America great again.”

Trump himself spoke to the political conference earlier in the day and took his own shots at the climate agreement, calling it a “totally disastrous, job-killing, wealth-knocking-out” deal (Greenwire, Feb. 23).

Pruitt is a familiar face at CPAC, having spoken at the conference in the past as Oklahoma’s attorney general. He also appeared at the event within days of being confirmed as EPA administrator last year (Climatewire, Feb. 27, 2017).

Pruitt also touted EPA’s efforts to roll back much of its previous work under the Obama administration, including major regulations like the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.

Pruitt characterized the agency as too confrontational before his arrival.

“It was an agency that was weaponized. It was weaponized against certain sectors of the economy,” Pruitt said. “So what we spent the time doing this past year … is deweaponizing.”

The administrator hit on his familiar themes from past speeches, talking about how he wants to emphasize “regulatory certainty” and “rule of law” at EPA. He said overbearing environmental rules can prevent businesses from expanding.

“Really, what you do is you don’t invest. You don’t deploy capital. That causes a paralysis with respect to the economy growing,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt also took the chance to espouse his own view of environmentalism. He talked up “stewardship,” through which the human race uses the world’s natural resources, seemingly fossil fuels, rather than fencing them off.

“Let’s use them for the betterment of mankind. Let’s feed the world and power the world, but let’s do so with stewardship mentalities — responsible stewardship for future generations. That’s where I believe the American people are,” Pruitt said.

The EPA chief has had to deal with a round of negative press lately, focusing on his first-class travel arrangements and his criticism in 2016 of then-candidate Trump.

Asked how he deals with the scrutiny, Pruitt said it’s important to keep a smile on your face.

“So I focus and I tell our team, ‘Let’s just get our job done,'” Pruitt said. “‘Let’s do the work before us. Let’s have a good, cheerful attitude as we do it, and let’s work together,’ and you know what’s going to happen? I think good outcomes.”