Obama Administration Failed to Protect Environment, Pruitt Says

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By Brian Dabbs

EPA chief Scott Pruitt skewered his predecessors at a May 24 symposium, arguing contamination crises and court battles are the real environmental legacy of the Obama administration.

There are more Superfund sites now than at the outset of 2009, and 40 percent of Americans live in areas that fail to meet EPA ozone standards, Pruitt told the symposium hosted by Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.

“Everybody talks about the past administration being so great for the environment,” Pruitt told the symposium hosted by Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Washington. “What’s so great about that record?”

Pruitt has criticized the Obama legacy to similar effect with other news outlets in recent weeks. While environmental groups have praised the Obama administration for a suite of environmental regulations, including fuel economy standards and a toxic substances regulatory overhaul, Pruitt pointed to the ongoing water contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., and the 2015 Gold King Mine blowout in southwest Colorado.

‘Bumper Sticker’

The former Oklahoma attorney general, who sued the agency he now heads more than a dozen times, later reiterated his opposition to the Paris climate accord.

The Paris agreement, coupled with the still-litigated Clean Power Plan, would slash the U.S. gross domestic product by $2.5 trillion annually through greenhouse gas reductions, he said. The agreement fails to coerce serious changes out of China and India, he added.

“Paris is a bumper sticker. It’s what the last administration represented,” Pruitt said. “They were mostly talk, very little action.”

More than 140 countries have now ratified the pact, and environmentalists point to it as one of the Obama administration’s most significant achievements. Pope Francis urged President Donald Trump May 24 to remain a party to the agreement, during the president’s first trip to the Vatican.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Dabbs in Washington at bdabbs@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Connolly at PConnolly@bna.com

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