U.S. Senate confirmation of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is welcomed news for Alabama farmers concerned about regulatory overreach.
Alabama Farmers Federation National Legislative Programs Director Mitt Walker said Pruitt has a proven record of upholding the law and pushing back when federal agencies go beyond Congressional intent.
“There is real excitement in the agricultural community about working with the new administration,” said Walker. “We are particularly excited about Administrator Pruitt taking the helm at EPA. He has a history of working with farmers and ranchers rather than seeing them as adversaries — which, unfortunately, was the case with the agency in recent years.”
As attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt was a leader in the fight against EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The proposal would have expanded EPA’s regulation of private lands by changing the interpretation of the Clean Water Act. As a result, common farming and forestry practices could require a permit or be subject to large penalties.
Pruitt was confirmed by a vote of 52-46. Both Alabama Republican Sens. Richard Shelby and Luther Strange voted for confirmation.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said Pruitt will bring a “breath of fresh air” to the EPA.
“America’s farmers and ranchers look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt as he leads the EPA with a welcome level of common sense in the important job of protecting the environment,” Duvall said. “For too long, farmers and ranchers have been victims of EPA’s harsh regulatory overreach. Farmers are conservationists to the core, and we want to play a positive, cooperative role in protecting the environment we rely on to produce food for this nation.”
In a statement following the confirmation vote, Shelby indicated he’s hopeful Pruitt will bring reform to an agency that’s wandered from its original mission.
“Throughout the past eight years, the EPA became an out-of-control bureaucracy focused on advancing the political priorities of the Obama Administration instead of its intended purpose,” Shelby said. “After reviewing his credentials and meeting with him personally, I am confident that Scott Pruitt will put the agency on a new path. I look forward to working with Administrator Pruitt in my role on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee to ensure that we protect our environment responsibly, but in a manner that will not unnecessarily stifle job creation and our economy.”
Strange is a long-time friend and colleague of Pruitt. While still attorney general in Alabama, Strange led a group of 24 state attorneys general in writing a letter to the Senate Environment Committee outlining Pruitt’s qualifications.
Strange praised the confirmation in a statement on Twitter.
“I have known Scott for a number of years, and I am so excited about the good work I know he will do as director at the EPA,” Strange posted. “He has seen first hand the devastation that rivers of red tape can create for farmers, small business owners and other vital industries that are the backbone of the American economy. There is no question that we all want clean water and air for our children and grandchildren, but Scott knows that a one-size-fits-all approach from Washington ignores the unique qualities of individual communities and can create more harm than good.”
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