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Back to Basics or Slash and Burn? Scott Pruitt’s Reign as EPA Administrator

November 2017

Citation: 47 ELR 10917

Issue: 11

Author: Bob Sussman

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt describes his philosophy as “back to basics." Although Pruitt’s words suggest a renewed focus on the fundamentals of environmental protection, his actions tell a different story. Instead of doubling down on traditional programs safeguarding air, water, and land, Pruitt’s tenure has been defined by an obsessive focus on undoing the legacy of Barack Obama’s EPA. This deeply destructive approach reflects skepticism and suspicion of the value of environmental regulation, coupled with cynicism about the scientific, legal, and economic tools that have traditionally been the underpinnings of EPA’s programs. Thus, Pruitt is not preserving the “basics” of our environmental protection system, but deconstructing them.

Bob Sussman served as EPA Deputy Administrator under President William Clinton and as Senior Policy Counsel to the EPA Administrator under President Barack Obama. Formerly a partner at Latham and Watkins, Bob is now an energy and environmental consultant and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law Center.

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