Scott Pruitt is the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prioritize economic growth over environmental protections since Anne Gorsuch Burford ran the EPA for former President Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1983, according to Axios.
Unlike most EPA administrators, Pruitt sports a conservative view of the agency and the direction its policy should take. Usually, EPA heads are left-of-center and environmentally driven rather than economically, even under Republican presidents, Axios reported Monday.
“A few prior EPA Administrators have given lip service to regulatory reform, but they have always focused on leaving an environmental legacy,” former George W. Bush administration EPA official Jeff Holmstead told Axios. “Administrator Pruitt has shown that he is much more interested in reducing regulatory burdens than in getting positive reviews from the environmental community.”
When Pruitt was confirmed to head the EPA, 800 former EPA employees had signed a letter in opposition of the former Oklahoma state attorney general running the agency, Business Insider reports. (RELATED: Former Official: Trump Is ‘Going To Go Farther’ Than Reagan In Cutting EPA)
“It looks like Pruitt and the Congress and this administration are undoing EPA and their regulations,” former assistant director of EPA Region 9’s water division, Jovita Pajarillo, told Business Insider. “Reagan had tried it in the past, but I think this administration is going to go farther.”
Although many former EPA officials don’t agree with the tact Pruitt has taken, the EPA’s first administrator, William Ruckelshaus, has admitted the agency’s scope is larger now than was originally intended.
“I almost hate to say yes, because it will skew what I’m about to say. But the answer is yes,” Ruckelshaus told KNKX in March after he was asked asked if the EPA had gotten “out of control and run amok.” (RELATED: First-Ever EPA Chief Admits The Agency Has Gotten Out Of Control)
Ruckelshaus thinks Pruitt’s style is an overall threat to the EPA, however.
“He can do more damage at least in my eyes, and have a bigger impact than was true of Anne Gorsuch Burford or anybody else,” Ruckelshaus told Axios.