Obama EPA chief: Trump regulation rollbacks won't hold up legally

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyEPA says it abandoned plan for office in Pruitt’s hometown Overnight Energy: Pruitt blames staff for controversies | Ex-Obama official to head new Harvard climate center | Electric vehicles on road expected to triple Ex-Obama EPA chief to lead new center for climate change at Harvard MORE says that regulations struck down by the Trump administration simply because they were issued under President Obama won't carry weight in court.

McCarthy, who led the Environmental Protection Agency from 2013 to 2017, called the recent political targeting of regulations at the agency a "real problem."

"I think the important thing is none of them should be touched unless the administration has a real reason to touch them, other than it was done under the Obama administration, and that is the real problem that we see," McCarthy on Tuesday told BuzzFeed's morning livestream program, "AM to DM."

The former administrator, who has been an outspoken opponent of changes made under current EPA head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittNew disclosures show Pruitt spent nearly K on 'tactical' pants and polos: report Overnight Energy: Inhofe defends Pruitt after criticisms | Agency releases study on water contaminant | Trump rescinds Obama ocean policy Hollywood goes low when it takes on Trump MORE, specifically mentioned the administration's desire to change the Clean Water Rule, also known as the Waters of the United States rule.

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"We see the Clean Water Rule being proposed to be repealed, all that rule really did was do what the Supreme Court and what science told us to do to make sure we are protecting the rivers and streams that are necessary to ensure safe drinking water and fishable and swimmable waters," McCarthy said.

"That is being challenged just because the president told them to do that in an executive order. That’s legally not going to hold up."

President TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE had made it a campaign trail promise to repeal the controversial 2015 Clean Water Rule. He signed an executive order in February 2017 formally asking Pruitt to consider repealing the rule and replacing it with a more limited one.

Last June, the EPA made its first steps to repeal the Clean Water Rule, and last month Pruitt formally suspended the Obama-era rule for two years while the administration works on a replacement draft rule.

McCarthy also touched on another hot point in environmental regulations, the Clean Power Plan, which she called one of the Obama administration's "premiere" steps.

Under Obama, the rule was met with many hurdles and has yet to be implemented. Prior to Trump taking office, the rule was awaiting final word from a federal appeals court.

Repealing the plan was part of Trump's promise to eradicate Obama's environmental legacy.

In October, the EPA formally announced plans to scrap the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule for power plants. Pruitt signed the plan saying the rule exceeds the agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act.

"I don’t understand the reason why they’d want to delay decision in the DC Circuit over that, that are charging the legality of the rule," McCarthy said of the EPA's delay tactic. "Let them play out. Let us see whether we did it right. I think we did and I think they will hold up under court even if this administration wants them to go away."

When asked about recent news that Administrator Pruitt flies all work-related trips in either business or first class, frequently racking up thousands of dollars in tax-payer expenses, McCarthy said she always flew coach.

"It was comfy for the people in my family, it's comfy for me and the people that I serve," she said. "It’s perfectly appropriate and that’s how we travelled because our job was to make sure we were protecting public dollars as best we could and making sure that every public dollar we could was being spent on the real mission of the agency, not the luxury of the administrator who was leading it."