In the News: Scott Pruitt Promises Aggressive Regulation Rollback

U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at CPAC 2017. Image: E&E NewsThe new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spoke this Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, vowing to undo Obama era regulations including the Clean Power Plan, the Waters of the United States rule, and rules limiting methane emissions from oil and gas installations of federal lands. Pruitt hinted that these regulations could be rolled back as early as this week, and administration officials say the President will propose a cut to the EPA budget and increases in military spending. Pruitt’s nomination and confirmation were controversial given his history of climate change denial and ties to the fossil fuel industry.The Tishman Environment and Design Center is committed to a just and sustainable world. As the Obama Administration rolled out the Clean Power Plan, we celebrated progress toward curbing greenhouse gas emissions, but also critically examined the rule with an eye toward environmental justice. We invited Visiting Scholars to The New School to produce white papers and webinars on the environmental justice implications of the Clean Power Plan, geared toward sharing research to support rules that would not only benefit the environment, but that would do so equitably. This should always be the goal of the U.S. EPA, an agency created to keep our air and water clean, and protect human health.Regulatory rollbacks like those touted by Pruitt are a step in the wrong direction. The United States government, through the EPA, should not only keep and enforce standards like the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the United States rule, but it should be consistently evaluating the implications of these rules for low income communities and communities of color that have historically been overburdened with dangerous pollutants and environmental contamination. The EPA should strive not just to reduce pollution, but to do so in a way that advances environmental justice, not the interests of big industry groups.