The Administration

EPA has history of lawlessness — Trump’s pick Scott Pruitt will bring order


Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is an ideal choice to head up the Environmental Protection Agency.

As an outspoken opponent of the Obama administration’s overregulation, The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), which I lead, particularly supports Pruitt’s opposition to the EPA’s Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and other examples of federal agency overreach.

{mosads}Our association members produce the stone, sand and gravel that are the base material for every building, road and public works project in the U.S. Rules like WOTUS harm not only businesses like ours, but the taxpayers, who fund our nation’s infrastructure.


A nationwide stay is currently keeping the rule, which radically expanded the EPA’s jurisdiction over what can be considered waters (including the regulation of isolated wetlands and dry stream beds) from being implemented across the country.

NSSGA would look forward to working with an EPA administrator that understands the harmful repercussions of such overregulation. Many areas of previously unregulated land would fall under federal jurisdiction, if the nationwide stay on WOTUS is lifted, and require costly federal permitting, correction or mitigation, which in turn will cause increased delays and cost overruns for critical public-works projects.

Similarly, quarries spend millions of dollars each year to comply with the EPA’s Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act to control the non-hazardous release of naturally-occurring dust. It is a natural by-product caused by crushing rocks that is regulated as particulate matter in the air and as solids in water.

Yet, were the EPA to reduce the permissible limits of particulate matter in air and water without sound scientific support, it would dramatically affect our members’ ability to provide material needed for vital infrastructure projects.

Pruitt has defended the rights of states to combat overreaching federal regulations in his opposition to the WOTUS rule and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Not only Oklahoma, but more than half of the states are working with businesses and associations to combat the rule.

“Respect for private property rights have allowed our nation to thrive, but with the recently finalized rule, farmers, ranchers, developers, industry, and individual property owners will now be subject to the unpredictable, unsound, and often byzantine regulatory regime of the EPA,” Pruitt said upon filing a lawsuit opposing WOTUS.

Under current administrator Regina McCarthy, the EPA developed this WOTUS rule behind closed doors and without a partnership including states and businesses. The EPA also lobbied the American people to support a rule that was scientifically unsound in violation of federal laws.

The non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated in 2015 that the EPA broke federal laws against publicity and grassroots lobbying with a social media campaign that encouraged the public to make official comments in support of WOTUS and also asked the public to urge their lawmakers to support the rule.

Also, in October 2016, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee outlined the ways that EPA and Obama administration staff bypassed regulatory protocols and procedures in order to create the WOTUS rule.

We believe that Pruitt would be an effective administrator of a government agency that has trouble following procedures to create rules. As the Attorney General for Oklahoma, he has shown a willingness to work with industry to grow American jobs.

Aggregates operations around the country recognize that the Earth’s resources, upon which all life depends, are finite and that wise environmental stewardship is necessary today to preserve the potential for a quality life for future generations.

NSSGA members believe that wise environmental stewardship is good business, and good for business. Our industry also believes that environmental laws and regulations should be based on sound scientific, engineering and medical research and on established scientific, engineering and medical principles.

It is our belief that Pruitt would work with the aggregates industry to safeguard our natural resources as quarries and aggregates businesses produce the raw materials needed for our country to invest in our aging infrastructure. 

Michael W. Johnson is the president and CEO of The National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, whose member companies produce more than 90 percent of the crushed stone and 70 percent of the sand and gravel consumed annually in the United States.

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


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