tv Republican Natl Lawyers Association Conference - EPA Admin. Scott Pruitt CSPAN April 30, 2018 3:32pm-4:01pm EDT
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good afternoon. my name is manuel iglesias. on the first vice president of this organization and it is my privilege to welcome and introduced scott pruitt, the administrator of the environmental protection agency and this year's recipient of the edwin meese award. i am personally a great fan of yours. you've advanced the president's agenda tremendously. you have brought the epa, the fundamental principles of good governance, implementing due process in the rulemaking, forced adherence by the agency to the rule of law and incorporated cooperative federalism to the process. frankly, we expect genovese to personally debut the award. he is a a great admirer of you. unfortunately he could not be with us today, so i am honored to hand you the award on behalf of the rnla. >> thank you so much.
[applause] >> first policy as an honor to receive an award named after edwin meese. general meese is some of that i've long admired. he was a meaningful help to me as i serve as attorney general in oklahoma around several pieces of litigation that we advanced that were very important to states' rights, federalism principles and he has just been a wonderful person and partner to me and my professional journey. but beyond that he's that is as person and a friend. as president reagan said i think during the '80s, in general meese is not a man, or are no good in washington, d.c. ed meese has been a tremendous, tremendous leader in our space, is a legal space for years and years and i really appreciate
receiving this. it's a great honor and thank you very much. >> he couldn't be here but he wanted us to read his letter. to the honorable scott pruitt, administrative, environmental protection agency, dear scott, it is a pleasure for me to join your friends and colleagues in congratulating you on receiving the edwin meese award from the rnla. i was honored when the rnla attached my name to this award and i'm now doubly honored with you as this year's recipient. it is very appropriate tribute for human use of dedicated public service and professional success. during your her years in oklahu served your fellow citizens as an outstanding attorney general and a member of the state senate. you now serve the entire nation of the president's cabinet and as administrator of the environmental protection agency. in all these capacities you distinguish yourself by your commitment to constitutional governance and the rule of law. in your current position as a head at epa you syria, great courage and exemplary leadership as you've worked for protecting
private by preserving the liberty of our people. as a lawyer and as a public official yet both held the highest qualities of our profession and i will deserve the recognition and appreciation that this award represents. i extend my commendations and best wishes for continued success in your important tasks. sincerely, edwin meese the third. >> what a blessing. thank you. [applause] >> we received some questions from our membership that i would like to post to you and have you opine on your successes at epa. the focus of this conference as you know is the rule of law and the trump administration. one of your main priorities has been to restore the rule of law at epa. how did the obama epa disregard the rule of law, and what action to be taken to correct what they did or did that you?
>> during the last administration, not just at the epa but in multiple agencies there was a feeling, if you will, a commitment to pinchhitting where congress had not acted. we saw that very acutely within the epa. a couple of examples that come to mind. the 2015 role that was adopted that provided a new definition to a water of the united states was stretched so far that it was really not recognized to those the past the clean water act which would include a drive creek bed and a puddle as a water of the united states. that is quite remarkable in light of what the intent and purpose in the language of the clean water act was intended to achieve. that's one example. the clean power plan is nobody you think about interpretation of interpretation. utility can discuss his country to shift from fossil fuel generation of electricity to renewables.
that's something that never been done prior and it's not within the text of the statute. it was a generous reading of what that equals and those are just two examples but i think fundamentally what drove those decisions was this attitude from executive branch perspective in the past administration at the couldn't wait on congress weather couldn't get direction from congress on the clean air act come last amended in 1990. and so to make progress policy objectives they had the advanced these types of rules that the course altered my step in. and clean power plan you know wednesday by the use of record and that it never happened in the text of that case. that was a load court case is being litigated. the u.s. supreme court intervened and issued a stay. that had never occurred before. the sixth circuit state the waters of the united states rule and that case was recently sold by the u.s. supreme court. those are just a couple of examples of which share with you but that was an attitude as i came into this agency.
my first day of the job i spent time with our agency and that emphasized three principles, and rule of law was number one. the only authority we possess in the executive branch to act on rulemaking is to the power that congress gives us. if congress has not spoken clearly we cannot make it up with them and act in our own initiative. that was something besides, also talk about process and talked about federalism. those are principles that should govern how we do business at the agency. the rule of law was number one. what does that lead to? deletes to certainty, and those in the marketplace deserve certainty. we think of role of law as being academical legal but it has a very practical effect of those that we regulate. if you have statute, clean water act, clean air act, whatever the case may be, and the statute says one thing and a regulation is untethered to that statute, if you're the regular committee what to respond to? the rule of the statute. think we're making progress.
our regulatory reform agenda is not just to address those rules. it provides replacements. we've got a replacement will probably come out in next month with respect to the waters of the united states rule. getting the 2015 rule withdrawn and address that but also provide a definition going forward with people know what's expected of them as far as permitting and federal jurisdiction. it's a combination of both. >> you incorporate every aggressive agenda but how are these reforms going to be durable and long lasting? >> great question and look, it's difficult at times to withdraw the rule to rescind the rule, to take steps to address what's going on before it is arduous but it's not impossible. it just takes time. particularly have to build a record. much of the rules that we were focused on parnell, where the
statute or the reach of the statute is a question which undivided certainty about this jurisdiction or statutory component. that can be accelerated because you're not building a record to support your rulemaking. when you look at this going forward as far as durability, you can't guarantee that necessarily. you just have to deal with the rulemaking process and let the rules per out what they're going to bear out. we know that provide some measure of certainty. we know that provides a measure of durability because to withdraw those required an equal process and that takes time. >> you've been on both sides as attorney general from oklahoma. you fought to protect americans read well in epa's overreach and now you're the other side. how did that experience color your community what? >> as i've indicated civil litigation was involved in from state perspective was in response direct response to this rule of law issue we are talking about. as we go forward issue rules
that are within the text, in the context in the framework of the statute. we've got advanced notice of proposed rulemaking in the market place today asking for comment across the country what authority that we have under section 111 to regulate greenhouse gases. that is seeking input from utility companies and from states and folks all over the country, give us your input on that authority. what we're trying to do is remedy those abuses that it happened before. the wink and nod approach if you will too rule of law and actually give the meaning and life in the steps we are taking now. >> one is ending the saddle. can you tell us how that operated in what's going to be different now? >> this is not something that was unique to the epa. this is something you saw in other agencies as well wear a
third-party would sue the government, epa or otherwise, and then go into a settlement discussion with the plaintiff and engage in what we would determine would be substantive rulemaking. a timeline that was in the statute that was changed, or a substantive step that would be required under rulemaking was put in. so is basically rulemaking, regulation through litigation but it was cabin with dissent decrease. last year i had a memo to agency, but the days of the sioux and settle are over as far as being sued by a third party and then using that process to engage in obligations that would be borne by others. to give an example, we had certain actions in the clean air act were states sought to intervene. this was before our time, sought to intervene in the case nhtsa direct impact on something very
be preparing and the previous administration thought intervention and would take that decree and when you do that statement said this is what you have to do now. that's just fundamentally flawed and abusive in my estimation pickets is a poor way of doing business. that's not to say you shouldn't settle cases. it's not to say you shouldn't have dissent decrease. it's as you engage in settlement, asian gauge and the consent decree it shouldn't be a replacement for apa process rulemaking process where you are regulating through litigation. we instituted procedures at the office. i did that again last year through a memo that says if are going to engage in settlement and a consent decree we will publish it. we will take common on it for 30 days and we will encourage states to offer comment. and make sure that this truly is about the parties and litigation were trying to sell as opposed to what, a broad-based law of
general applicability, that affect states all over the country and that is the best way -- we do that in the clean air act but we all to do that in a clean water act. we ought to do it under other statutory frameworks that we engage in settlement. to me that's common sense and it's reflective of our commitment to the epa and in how we do business at the agency. i'm very encouraged about what's happening. it's an ongoing discussion obviously because you evaluate on a case-by-case basis, and it is one of the most difficult things i've had to deal with in this position is the host of consent decree so we inherited that place obligations upon agency that no bearing in the statute. there simply based upon again this process that i described to you. this would be very constructive and helpful going forward, and i think it's the right way to do business. >> you've been extremely busy. you spearheaded nearly 200
actions saving the country more than $1 billion. can you explain some of those actions? >> it's administration why. president trump has led an effort of eight reduction regular cost which is quite breathtaking in just one year. a little over a year. that's quite as as a major breathtaking for the epa contributed to a billion of the 8 billion. i think oftentimes this revelatory reform agenda we been about is it is defined only as deregulation but it's not deregulation in the truest sense. we have some of that. it truly is regulatory certainty and reform because if you have rule, where a host of those types of actions where we've taken steps to do what, remedy the deficiency of her previous role and then as indicated provide a replacement. the replacement is achieving
regulatory benefit with respect to the vibrant but it's doing so within a framework that is consistent with the statute, providing certainty. most businesses across the country that i've met and known industry across the country, i want to comply with the law. you want to allocate resources. they want certainty over long period of time so they know what to expect. white has been wrong the last several years is these actions that were superimposed of the statute, created this kind of what we do approach. that's bad for the environment and it's bad for rulemaking. this revelatory reform agenda has saved us a substantial amount of money clearly but it is also providing in long-term better outcome for the vibrant that will be measurable and something we can celebrate as a country. >> this week you announced the new policy to ensure science transparency at the agency. can you explain how that works? >> this is one of the things
that's drawn a lot of attention in the right way, and i found common sense at times is not to come at the agency, and i don't know what's controversial about this and the mean very candid with you. when we do rulemaking, you may not know this but oftentimes we will rely on third-party studies that will support our rulemaking. those third-party studies they would just simply published to us the conclusion, the findings of the study. they will publish the methodology and it won't publish the data that was reviewed. they will hand us the work but not, excuse me, and as the results but not show was the work here to me, now if we did this internally, ord for the programmatic office, air, chemical, if we do the rulemaking guess what we are to do? provide the methodology, the date and the conclusions.
to me that's absolutely not consistent with the administrator procedures act because it's the whole purpose of the ap is to provide a proposed rule and that allow citizens across the country to make informed comments about the merits of that rule, how can you make informed comment if all you have is the conclusion budget under the analysis? you can't. you it in the true since there we made a of this week that basically said look, we can rely on third parties, third-party studies in supporting our rulemaking but if we do that those third parties have to provide as the data and methodology as part of this conclusions. there the major personal inform, there may be confidential business information that needs to be redacted but that's not what is at issue. we need to see the analysis and the methodology and the conclusion. that is there to the american people saw issued a directive this week to do just that.
>> they got a lot of attention yesterday in the house committee hearings. we talked about for some time and it just, i was just struck by the business transpacific you want to be able to reproduce sides and transfer it and evaluate it, and any of the approach to me is secret science. and that shouldn't be what we are about from the apa process. we are on that and fixing that. >> it also place a lot of emphasis on cooperative federalism. you've visited more than 30 states that were mostly ignored by the previous administration. why is cooperative federalism so important in helping to run your agency? >> really come stakeholders across the country, farmers and ranchers, when you think about the actual application and the states as well, we have many delegated programs under the clean water act when we are working in active partnership should be working active
partnership with states to achieve environmental outcomes that a been defined under statute. to get a couple examples another was working before, , when i wre at the agency there were 700 state of the mentation plans that states have prepared using state resources and expertise to improve air quality. state all of the country, 700. they were sitting on a shelf not acted upon. we acted upon 350 of those in the time i've been surfing. the resort and that is because it's really not a good way to do business. for state to say were going to submit the states of the mentation plan for you to improve air quality, the issues you face in utah or colorado or the west coast may be different than what you're facing in south east part of united states, whatever the case, use expertise and resources to give us concrete plant of us to not be responsive is actually a
disincentive and impactful the wrong direction on air quality. so it is statutory. their specific parts of the clean air act. under the clean air act, it's what i would consider privacy to states. it's not a base rule at all, aesthetics based rule. clean water act, their substantial delegation to the states. we need to be an active practical cooperation with the state on a day-to-day basis. there are regions to be, to achieve good outcomes with respect environment. we have given life to that. over 30 states, i don't know how many at this point but deq is an dnr working with are regions and with headquarters to advance these principles. we are seeing tremendous progress. where sending progress in the process we go through on the designation.
i'm very encouraged in that regard. it has been a priority for us as we had led the agency. >> overall how effective is the u.s. protecting the vibrant and growing the economy and improving peoples lives? >> well look, i think we do it, i actually think we do it better than anyone in the world between the balance and growth in being good and by mental stewards. we reduced our pollutants that we regulate under clean air act, particular matter and ozone and the rest it would reduce those pollutants by over 65% since 1980. also growing gdp a substantial way. we've made wonderful progress. we've got work to do clearly that when you compare us to other countries across the globe i think with sensitivity, a commitment to industry and state an understanding about jobs and growth, and that's an attitude that has driven us historically. i will tell you it's been under
assault the last couple of years. years. i think the last several years we've been told as americans we have to choose between jobs and growth and the environment. we've been told that the true apart mentalism is prohibition though we've been blessed with natural resources that we should use to be the world and power the world we should use them and we should put offenses and say do not touch. i just think that's wrong. i don't think we've ever been to as a country. i think where we been as a country always has been with got an obligation, much is given a much is required. let's use those resources that we have and let's do these been with the stewardship principles for future generations that we can achieve both. that's a reorientation of thinking that needs to occur and is occurring hopefully in our discussion both publicly and intro at the agency. >> this will be our last question. looking ahead, what are your goals for the epa over the next
year? >> some of it, obviously the conclusion of some of these rules that we are working upon is very important. i anticipate that the proposed redefining of water of the united states will come out here very soon and will be able to finalize about by the end of year. we will be able to finalize our approaches in the section 111 space i talked about already. so i think having a culmination of a rulemaking process used to provide certainty will be very important. i also think it's process and when is a process, structurally at the agency, just to keep one example, when i came in i asked the question of working how long does it take us to go through the permitting process. i'm speaking general here and abstractly, and it wasn't even a measure. we didn't even know. so we collected the data, evaluated that and it worked out a process now where the agency
is going to be able to make a decision up or down on a permit within six months, by the end of the year. that's something states to retrieve it. we never set that objective and i can tell you we're not doing it in six months right now. we're seeing that kind of change and that's what is there and most important. when we do reporting, when we collect reports, we not just collect data for the sake of collecting data. and not to lead to something. we shouldn't just go to in industry or secretary of state and say just give us the stuff and wages going to use it and just let it sit there. about to be used for purpose. we need to look at the cause and effect of how we do business. for permitting and reporting in the rest, that we are actually advancing at by mental outcomes, objective and air quality, water quality at the same time we're providing regulatory certainty. if we do that effectively, that's good for the vibrant and is good for the con and it's
good for the american people. >> thank you very much for joining us, and with no -- [applause] no further business to attend to i now adjourn rnla 2018 policy conference. thank you all for attending. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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