Conservative lawmakers and groups have been rallying behind embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, arguing that despite his hefty government spending on travel and security and questionable ethical choices, he's doing a good job at rolling back environmental regulations. President Trump appears sympathetic to that argument. Environmentalists, meanwhile, are starting to quietly and happily question Pruitt's regulatory rollback prowess.
"Legal experts and White House officials say that in Mr. Pruitt's haste to undo government rules and in his eagerness to hold high-profile political events promoting his agenda, he has often been less than rigorous in following important procedures, leading to poorly crafted legal efforts that risk being struck down in court," The New York Times reports. Six of Pruitt's attempts to scrap or delay regulations enacted under former President Barack Obama have already been struck down in court, and he's had to withdraw a regulation on mercury pollution and walk back other proposed changes.
"In fact, Pruitt has not yet killed or rolled back any significant regulations that were in place when President Donald Trump took office," says Michael Grunwald at Politico. If "Pruitt has done a lot less to dismantle the EPA than he — or his critics—would have you believe," however, "it's not for lack of trying," Grunwald adds.
EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the Times that the "EPA does its due diligence, consults with [Office of Management and Budget] and other federal agencies to ensure that its work is legally defensible," and Grunwald says that "even if Pruitt fails to create toothless carbon rules that provide lasting protection to the coal industry and other major contributors to global warming, he can protect the coal industry through inaction now," and he more broadly has "the power to act through omission." But environmentalists and some conservatives say that even if Pruitt is still around in two or three years, EPA rules he's vowed to gut probably will be, too.