EPA chief calls for 'aggressive' rollback of regulations at CPAC

Newly minted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on Saturday spoke of an "aggressive" agenda of regulatory rollbacks, criticizing the previous Obama administration for being “so focused on climate change."

In a question-and-answer session at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, Pruitt blamed the Obama administration for failing to tackle more state-based environmental issues, such as a decades-old water quality issues in Oregon tied to a nuclear facility in Washington.

“What has happened over the past several years, is the previous administration was so focused on climate change and so focused on CO2 that some of those other priorities were left behind,” he said.

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“We as Republicans don’t have anything to be apologetic about with respect to the environment – nothing,” he added. “We have always believed that you can grow jobs, grow an economy, while also doing what? Being a good steward of the environment.”

Pruitt was confirmed to lead the EPA last week and his first day was Tuesday. His appearance at the political forum underscored the Trump administration's embrace of the conference this week.

President Trump spoke at the conservative confab Friday, while Vice President Pence, White House chief of staff and chief strategist Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, as well as senior Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, also appeared.

In his previous job as Oklahoma attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times and has close ties to the fossil fuel industry.

He was also a strong opponent of former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaMoney can’t buy VA reform Healthcare saga shaping GOP approach to tax bill Is a wave election forming for Democrats? MORE’s climate change agenda, as well as many federal environmental regulations.

At CPAC on Saturday, Pruitt reiterated his call to dismantle some of Obama’s environment regulations “in a very aggressive way,” and said that his first rollbacks could come next week.

“I think there are some regulations that in the near term need to be rolled back in a very aggressive way,” he said. “And I think maybe next week, you may be hearing about some of those, as it relates to some of these key issues.”