Western Governors Meet With EPA Chief Seeking ‘Better State and Federal Partnership’
A bipartisan group of Western governors met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday as part of a push to improve relations between the federal government and the states on matters of energy and environmental policy.
Pruitt hosted several members of the Western Governors Association (WGA) for a breakfast meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss “issues important to their individual states,” the EPA Administrator said in a statement. As Western Wire reported last week, winning back the trust of states after eight years of the Obama administration is a major priority for Pruitt, who formerly served as Oklahoma’s attorney general.
“The Western Governors Association wants a better state and federal partnership,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), chairman of the WGA, said after the meeting.
The group of governors who met with Pruitt included Republicans, Democrats and an Independent. According to the EPA, Bullock was joined by Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (R), Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D), Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R), North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R), Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D).
“These Governors and their states are great stewards of their natural resources,” Pruitt said. “They want to protect their water and air and grow their economies. The Environmental Protection Agency is going to help them do that,” he said.
The day before his breakfast with Western governors, Pruitt spoke to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, vowing to work more constructively with state-level officials. “We’re going to once again pay attention to the states across this country,” Pruitt said. “As you go out into the rest of the country, know this: The folks in Washington, D.C. have a new attitude.”
Last week, in an address to EPA employees, Pruitt said it’s important that states “see us as partners in this very important mission we have as an agency, and not adversaries,” he said.
During the Obama administration, Pruitt emerged as a leading critic of the EPA in his former role as Oklahoma attorney general. He joined with other states, business groups, labor unions and other stakeholders in challenging the Obama EPA in court for overstepping its authority.
Their biggest win was a U.S. Supreme Court stay of the so-called Clean Power Plan (CPP), an EPA regulation that was created after cap-and-trade climate legislation was defeated in Congress in 2010, despite wide Democratic majorities at the time. Like the cap-and-trade bill, the CPP regulation would require states to impose carbon dioxide limits on power plants and mandate the use of more wind, solar and other so-called renewables.
In his address to EPA employees, Pruitt said he rejects the idea that economic growth undermines environmental stewardship. “I believe that we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” he said. He also defended the nation’s record on the environment. “I think our nation has done better than any nation in the world in making sure we do the job of protecting our natural resources and protecting our environment, while also respecting the economic growth and jobs our nation seeks,” he said.