Trump's EPA must defend this rare regulation benefiting business, environment
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A nitpicking, wrongly-decided decision by a three-judge U.S. appeals court panel has struck down a pro-growth environmental regulatory policy that has long had enthusiastic support from both the U.S. business community and environmentalists.

The EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) is a rare regulation that involves no federal government subsidies and has led to decades of private sector investment and innovation of new, better environmental technologies.  

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The SNAP program, and its recently associated regulations, have conservative roots. SNAP was instituted by Congress under President George H.W. Bush a couple of years after the adoption of the Montreal Protocol; an agreement among many countries that incentivized innovation of safer, next generation environmental technologies. The Montreal Protocol was supported by both President Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

American companies invested over a billion dollars to invent hydrofluoro-olefins (HFOs), a better technology than hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFOs have a number of uses, principally as refrigerants and foam-blowing agents.

These technologies sound complicated but they are used in many everyday products we rely on, especially automobiles. HFOs are set to replace HFCs worldwide, earning American companies and workers a global marketplace advantage in exporting this new technology. That means more good paying jobs here at home.

This American advantage has not been received well by French and Mexican companies. They want to keep the old technology. That's why they are suing to try and slow down the process and undermine American investment and ingenuity. The court’s bizarre ruling, while recognizing the policy has led to American investment and innovation of better environmental technologies, declared that EPA’s action to move to better alternatives was outside its jurisdiction.

The ruling was not unanimous, but a 2 to 1 split decision. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was right to defend the SNAP-related regulation, given how it has benefited American companies and their workers. He would be right to appeal this decision as well and keep fighting.

Pruitt, a former attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, was known for taking the EPA to court in his previous job. He knows the difference between good EPA policy and bad.

Likewise, he understands that smart regulations — those that aren’t costly or burdensome, or lead to job losses at the expense of an extreme political agenda — are worth preserving. Such thoughtful leadership is directly in line with President Trump’s mandate from the American electorate: to get our country’s economy growing again.

If the ruling stands then the global advantage American companies worked to achieve will be gone. The $1 billion American companies invested to develop these products, will have been spent in vain as other companies — such as the French and Mexican companies who filed the lawsuit — will have erased that advantage without investing or innovating anything. The intellectual property patents established by U.S. companies, as a result of their work over many years, will have been rendered practically worthless.

These are not the only reasons Pruitt should continue the fight. The fallout from this ruling, if it stands, will likely be a strong reluctance on the part of American companies to make such investments again, which goes against everything the president believes and has said.

Trump is the first true, successful entrepreneur to win the White House. The last thing he likely wants to see — or worse, preside over — is a chilling effect on investment and innovation that spreads throughout American industry.  

As a former litigator, Pruitt knows he stands a fighting chance before the full U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He would also provide a healthy rebuke to left-wing extremists who have attacked both him and the president on environmental issues. Additionally, the administration’s willingness to defend a regulation that’s a win-win-win for business, jobs and the environment will only give it more credibility when it wants to scrap more politically motivated regs that have adverse effects on the U.S. economy.

Conservatives and Republicans have long advocated intelligent, effective environmental stewardship. The SNAP policy meets that test and should be vigorously defended.

Steve Forbes is chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and author of the recently released book, “Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed will restore Hope & Prosperity.”


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.