• The Scorecard
  • April 24, 2018 | Author: Joshua L. Milrad
  • Law Firm: Goldberg Segalla LLP - Hartford Office
  • In May 2017, we reported about the intentions of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to rebalance the EPA. At that time, Pruitt discussed core values and stressed that going forward the process and rule making will matter. One of the customs that Pruitt expressed he wanted to shed was “the federal government [being] actively involved in picking winners and losers by using regulations and the power to penalize…” Pruitt contended that the EPA’s mission is and should be clean air, water quality, and land remediation.

    On March 5, 2018 the EPA issued its scorecard: EPA Year in Review 2017-2018. The Scorecard details the achievements of a refocused EPA. According to Pruitt, 22 deregulatory actions taken during the year have saved over $1 billion in regulatory costs. But the deregulatory process is not yet complete. To date, the EPA has eliminated: standards for building in flood zones, offshore drilling, royalty regulations for oil, gas, and coal, listings of endangered species, calculating the social cost of carbon (which we’ve blogged about in a past post), sewage treatment regulations, Department of Interior climate policies, and the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions in environmental review.
    The scorecard contains a list of EPA accomplishments: a return to cooperative federalism, restoration of the rule of law and the process, increased transparency and accountability, elimination of job-killing burdensome regulations, and improved compliance and assistance. In the section titled “By the Numbers,” the EPA claims that it quickly implemented executive orders, engaged in regulatory reform, reached out to multiple bipartisan pubic officials, acted on 322 state implementation plans for clean air, approved 3,000 Total Maximum Daily Loads for water, cut the time to review state water standards, dedicated $25 million for water infrastructure loans, provided $8.9 billion in State Revolving Funds for water quality improvements, gave $100 million for water infrastructure to Flint, Michigan, eliminated seven contaminated sites, eliminated the backlog for new chemical solutions, collected $1.6 billion in administrative and civil penalties, and obtained an increase for the commitment of private parties to remediate.
    Pruitt claims that “we need to reorient our thinking about the big picture — environmental stewardship — which includes regulatory clarity.” He contends that EPA is now advancing “a back to basics agenda.” The Scorecard also reflects that EPA is targeting its own Clean Power Plan (implemented under the previous administration) because “it exceeded the Agency’s statutory authority.” In a recent interview with CBS News, Pruitt stated that the philosophy of the EPA is on stewardship and that his agency should not be in the business of favoring certain sources of energy over others.
    While the EPA scorecard lists the agency’s accomplishments, on the flip side, watchdog groups and NGO’s claim the EPA has stalled environmental protections, provided power to the fossil fuel groups in their battle with public health, and eased environmental enforcement efforts. There’s a clear tension between the EPA and its back to basics policy and economic stewardship mantra and other outside groups, who likely have an entirely different score reflected on their cards.