Pruitt Makes Promise to Consider Public Comments in Making EPA Rule Changes

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s promising his agency will consider thousands of public comments as it reviews regulations and whether to eliminate some.

It’s what he told E and E News at an Earth Day event in Dallas.

“Those comments are going to be taken very seriously because that’s our job,” said Pruitt, the former Oklahoma Attorney General. “Our job is to make sure that as people respond to either the withdrawal or the proposal of a rule, we need to evaluate how it’s going to impact both health, as well as other situations, and then respond accordingly on the record. And that’s something we’re restoring at the EPA.”

The EPA is giving the public until May 15 to post comments about the regulations. The deadline was set after President Trump issued an executive order on Feb. 24 calling for every federal agency to create a Regulatory Reform Task Force and recommend which existing regulations might be repealed, replaced or changed.

But many environmentalists are skeptical about Pruitt’s promise or whether the agency will really consider their input.

“My guess is they won’t pay much attention,” said Joel Mintz, a former EPA attorney who teaches environmental law at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. “They are asking for input on their priorities, but my own personal hunch is their priorities are set already—that’s the way it looks.”

But Michael Burger, executive director of Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law said the agency does not have any legally enforceable obligation to do anything about the comments.

 

“Just looking at the docket right now, it creates a clear impression that there is a great deal of resistance to the idea that regulations should be withdrawn for the sole purpose of rolling back regulations,” Burger said. “The louder that voice will be, the more difficult it will be for the agency to ignore. I think it’s a worthwhile and important step for people to take to comment on agency action.”

 

 

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