Quick question: Who is likely to have more impact on the American economy? Treasury Secretary-nominee Steven Mnuchin or Environmental Protection Agency Administrator nominee Scott Pruitt?
You’d be forgiven if you opted for the obvious choice, the treasury secretary. But if history is any guide, you might just be wrong. Because while policy wonks focus on an obsolete, high-rate corporate and individual tax code as a major cause of American economic stagnation, out in the real world, small businessmen, farmers and property owners will tell you the biggest drag on the economy is outrageous over-regulation by the EPA.
And they’ve got evidence to back them up.
To take but one example, the EPA’s recent decision to impose new fuel standards on trucks pushed the ten-year regulatory burden on our nation over the $1 trillion mark - three-quarters of which have been imposed by the Obama administration - according to a new study by the American Action Forum.
That’s an annual cost of $540 per person, according to the new study. And that cost is not imposed on us by our elected representatives, acting to move legislation through both houses of Congress and then have it signed by the President, so that its authors remain accountable to their citizens; no, that cost is imposed by unelected bureaucrats, unreachable by voters and unaccountable to their constituents.
Enter Scott Pruitt, nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as Administrator of the EPA.
Pruitt knows the EPA well - from his current perch as the Attorney General of Oklahoma, he’s been fighting EPA overreach for years.
But it’s not just Pruitt’s experience fighting the EPA from his position as his state’s Attorney General that qualifies him for his new position; his prior experience, too, is invaluable.
He served for eight years in the Oklahoma state Senate, which means he’s had to put together campaigns and actually win votes from constituents. That simple fact, by definition, proves that he understands how to listen, and lead, and build coalitions. In the state Senate, he was selected by his GOP colleagues to serve as the Republican Whip, and then as the Republican Assistant Floor Leader - all within just a few years of entering the body.
As his state’s Attorney General, he has seen the real-world effects of the EPA’s unconstitutional over-regulation, and he’s been a leader in seeking to return the EPA to constitutional bounds.
Since taking office in early 2011, Pruitt has been a party to at least eight federal lawsuits challenging the EPA’s authority to regulate states and various businesses, particularly the energy industry. But he hasn’t limited his fight against an overreaching federal government to the EPA; he’s also filed suit against the Obama administration on ObamaCare, and Dodd-Frank financial regulations.
Given candidate Trump’s promise to overturn two regulations for every new regulation his administration proposed, Pruitt will be at ground zero of the Administration-wide effort to unshackle America’s energy sector.
The left’s misleading charge against Pruitt is that he has no regard for the environment. A closer look at his record shows the absurdity of that claim, however. As Oklahoma Attorney General, he negotiated a water rights settlement with Indian tribes that preserved the ecosystems of scenic lakes and rivers. He also worked hand-in-hand with the Democrat Attorney General in Arkansas to reduce pollution in the Illinois River. And, don’t expect to hear this from the media: He sued oil and gas companies that were polluting the environment and defrauding taxpayers. Despite what the left has argued for years, protecting the environment is not a zero-sum game; it is quite possible to pursue sound environmental policies without eroding individual liberties or economic freedom.
Scott Pruitt’s record simultaneously demonstrates a commitment to the environment and a no-nonsense approach to reining in an abusive federal agency that has been found - time and again - cloaking its anti-business, job-killing agenda in the guise of seemingly pro-environment policies. Throughout his career in Oklahoma, Pruitt has proven that it is possible to be both a champion of the environment and the economy. It is only in the left’s playbook that the two objectives are constantly at odds with one another.
When viewed from that perspective, it’s difficult to think of a better nominee for the EPA than Scott Pruitt.