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Pruitt Isn’t the Problem, But Wasteful Spending Is
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Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arguably has the hardest job in the Trump Administration. While rolling back eight years’ worth of onerous regulations, he is facing unparalleled scrutiny from the Left.

Administrator Pruitt has been instrumental in cutting Obama-era regulations. With support from the White House, Pruitt has reigned in the Clean Water Act. At one time, this rule designated puddles as under federal jurisdiction, trampling on property rights and taking away power from state and local municipalities. He has also announced plans to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which was welcome news to the coal country in my home state. Most importantly, Pruitt has declared a war on “junk science.” For years, the EPA has made rules based on confidential or unsubstantiated data, but not anymore.

Over the past month, there have been numerous reports of alleged overspending at the EPA. These allegations range from office equipment to raises within the EPA and Pruitt’s increased security detail. The amount spent on these items is minuscule compared to the amount spent on EPA regulations every year.

Unauthorized Office Equipment

On April 16, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report claiming the EPA violated Section 710 of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2017. This was in response to the EPA spending $43,000 to build a soundproof phone booth for Administrator Pruitt’s secure phone line, or Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), in his office. Section 710 prohibits agencies from spending over $5,000 to furnish or improve presidential appointees’ offices without Congressional approval.

Section 710 is something of which I would usually be in favor, but this purchase is justifiable. According to a report by the EPA’s Office of the Inspector General in 2013, the EPA Administrator is the EPA’s sole original classification authority (OCA). This means that Scott Pruitt is currently the only individual that can classify documents at the EPA. The secrecy of a booth in Pruitt’s office would make classifying documents a more secure process.

Unauthorized Raises

The EPA is also facing heat over raises given to two aides. These raises are controversial because the White House formerly disapproved of these raises. The EPA was able to push them through with jurisdiction from the Safe Drinking Water Act. The federal government shouldn’t pay more than market value to their employees. Congress should work to fix the loophole in this law instead of lambasting the EPA for using it.

24/7 Security Detail

Pruitt has also faced scrutiny for increasing his security detail amid threats of violence. On April 10, Thomas Carper and Sheldon Whitehouse, who have track records of environmental-activist policies, sent a letter to Senator John Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, to discredit threats made to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. This came after the EPA’s OIG released a report that contained a list of 13 threats made against Pruitt. Senators Carper and Whitehouse didn’t find them credible, but many directly threatened Pruitt’s life. The Left threatens violence against Pruitt because he has been rolling back countless Obama-era regulations.

While many on the left would like to portray this as abnormal, cabinet members have had security details since the 1970’s.

The Bottom Line

Everything listed above cost the EPA around $3.2 million over the course of a year. That pales in comparison to the EPA’s $10.14 billion budget in FY 2017.  Of that amount, 26.7 percent, $2.8 billion, was spent on environmental programs and management, which is supposedly the EPA’s main purpose.  The rest was spent on grants, superfund payments, buildings and facilities maintenance, and other clerical duties.

As can be seen in outgoing Senator Jeff Flake’s “The Science of Splurging,” the EPA has a track record of wasting taxpayer dollars. Liberals should worry about:

  1. $1.5 million a year to store outdated publications
  2. $1.2 million on years of administrative leave for eight employees
  3. $15 million on unauthorized purchases by EPA employees on federally-issued credit cards

Additionally, instead of protecting the environment efficiently, the EPA continually sets records for the most expensive regulations. The Clean Air Act’s 2011 ozone standards cost business $20 to $90 million in compliance cost, making it the most costly US regulation in history. The EPA’s coal emissions standards, proposed in 2013, would make it nearly impossible for coal power plants to open; this puts a stranglehold on affordable energy for Americans and shutters an entire sector of the economy.

The EPA has given millions of dollars in grants to foreign countries, instead of protecting the domestic environment. A 2011 report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee outlined 11 examples of grants given to foreign entities. $700,000 was given to Thailand to recover methane gas from pig farms. The EPA also gave $1.2 million to the United Nations to promote clean fuels and fuel-efficient vehicles in developing countries. Developing countries have better things to worry about, like clean drinking water.

Scott Pruitt is slowly but surely deregulating our dying energy industry. The Left is hurling insults, allegations, and credible threats. Liberals should worry about unconstitutional regulations and objective wasteful spending, not just actions taken by another administration’s EPA.


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