Energy & Environment

EPA chief: Obama was no ‘environmental savior’

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tore into former President Barack Obama’s environmental record Thursday, saying he failed in important areas.

Speaking on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show, Scott Pruitt accused the Obama administration of “poor leadership” and “poor focus,” resulting in bad air quality, more contaminated sites under the Superfund cleanup program, and water pollution crises.

“The past administration is viewed as the environmental savior. But when you look at air attainment in this country, we’re at 40 percent non-attainment right now on ozone. About 140 million people live in non-attainment areas for air quality, under air quality programs,” he said, referring to a measure of areas in the country that have reached federal standards for ozone pollution concentrations.

{mosads}“Superfund sites, we have more today than when President Obama came into office. Water infrastructure, you had Flint and you had Gold King. And … the regulations that they issued on carbon, they failed twice. They struck out twice,” Pruitt continued.

“So when you look at their record, what exactly did they accomplish for the environment that folks are so excited about?”

Pruitt used the criticism in part to promote his new policy of prioritizing Superfund cleanups, including a memo this week that gives him the power to approve cleanups worth $50 billion or more, taking the power away from lower-level staffers.

On another radio appearance Wednesday, Pruitt was also highly critical of his predecessor, naming similar environmental problems over the last eight years.

“What’s so great about that record,” he asked North Dakota conservative radio host Rob Port, after listing similar statistics about air quality, Superfund and the Flint and Gold King disasters.

“I don’t quite understand the environmental left when they say that somehow, what the past administration, what was done, was so great.”

He also defended his record of suing the Obama EPA more than a dozen times to stop regulations while he was Oklahoma’s attorney general.

“My response to that is, they deserved it,” he said. “And they deserved it because they exceeded their statutory authority, they exceeded their constitutional authority. When they got outside of their lane, they got sued, and they got stopped. So they didn’t even achieve good environmental outcomes. All they did was incur litigation costs in the process.”

Tags Barack Obama Environmental Protection Agency

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