News Feature | January 25, 2018

Pruitt Describes EPA's 2018 Agenda: Scaling Back Regulations And Staff

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

In laying out the U.S. EPA’s agenda for 2018, Administrator Scott Pruitt indicated that the agency would focus on scaling back Obama-era clean water regulations while ramping up the fight against lead contamination in public drinking water.

“The agenda, laid out … in an exclusive interview with Reuters … marks an extension of the agency’s efforts under President Donald Trump to weaken or kill regulations the administration believes are too broad and harm economic growth, but which environmentalists say are critical to human health,” CNBC reported.

At the same time, Pruitt noted that a fundamental solution to lead contamination could come as the Trump administration seeks to overhaul the country’s infrastructure.

“Pruitt said he also hoped Congress could produce an infrastructure package this year that would include replacing municipal water pipes, as a way of combating high lead levels in certain parts of the United States,” per CNBC.

Though the agency has been hinting at this action for months, Pruitt also indicated the time has come for action to revamp the Waters of the United States rule, which defines the source water bodies that come under federal jurisdiction. He also commented on the staff cutting that has been taking place at the EPA.

“Pruitt said EPA is continuing to reduce the size of its staff, which fell to 14,162 employees as of Jan. 3, the lowest it has been since 1998, under Ronald Reagan when the employment level was 14,400,” per CNBC. “The EPA employed about 15,000 when Obama left office.”

Overall, the report seems to indicate that the EPA will be continuing in the direction it has moved in since Pruitt took over. The key objective for the EPA in 2018 will be to reduce environmental oversight as it had been throughout 2017.

“In its first year under President Donald Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency moved quickly to fulfill several promises Trump made during the presidential campaign, most notably to roll back climate regulations put into place under the Obama administration,” ABC News reported. “Trump and Pruitt further sought to significantly shrink the EPA over the past year, proposing drastic budget cuts and offering buyouts that reduced staffing.”