Former President Obama is widely revered by activists and progressive Democrats for his actions on climate change, but Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Thursday challenged those credentials and said the former commander in chief was no “environmental savior.”
In a radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, Mr. Pruitt said the past administration talked a good game on the environment, but has little in the way of concrete accomplishments. He pointed to the environmental disaster in Flint, Michigan, and the Gold King Mine spill, both of which led to widespread water contamination.
He also said the administration’s attempts to rein in carbon emissions were blocked by federal courts, as were other high-profile regulations. At the same time, Mr. Pruitt charged, much of the country remained in non-compliance with federal ozone standards, and the number of Superfund sites — areas contaminated by hazardous waste and identified for federal clean-up efforts — increased during Mr. Obama’s tenure.
“It’s just poor leadership. It’s poor focus,” said Mr. Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma. “When you look at the past administration’s environmental record, I mean, the past administration is viewed as the environmental savior. But when you look at air attainment in this country, we’re at 40 percent non-attainment right now on ozone. About 140 million people live in non-attainment areas for air quality, under air quality programs.
“Superfund sites, we have more today than when President Obama came into office,” he continued. “Water infrastructure, you had Flint and you had Gold King. And the regulations that they issued on carbon, they failed twice. They struck out twice. So when you look at their record, what exactly did they accomplish for the environment that folks are so excited about?”
Mr. Pruitt is leading the charge to roll back many Obama-era regulations. His targets include those rules that were blocked by federal courts, including the Clean Power Plan, a proposed set of limits on carbon emissions from power plants.
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