Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Scott Pruitt last week pledged his support for farmers on the issues of regulatory overreach and renewable fuels during his Senate confirmation hearing.
Pruitt, who had oil industry ties as the attorney general of Oklahoma, said his role as administrator is to honor the intent of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
"It’s the job of the administrator to enforce the program," he said. "To administer the program. To ensure the intent of Congress as part of the RFS is upheld. I will do that."
Pruitt also testified that he would work to provide clarity on the EPA’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
"There’s much flexibility and discretion in there given to the EPA," he said. "And a series of cases that lead up the Rapanos decision that haven’t provided tremendous amount of clarity. The best thing the EPA can do going forward is to re-establish that clarity so that states and individuals know what is expected of them in compliance."
The rule is currently on a national stay and is tied up in the courts.
As attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt was one of 21 state attorney generals who supported a lawsuit filed by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and Pennsylvania Farm Bureau (PFB) alleging that the EPA exceeded its Clean Water Act authority by mandating maximum levels for nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment runoff in the Chesapeake Bay.
The EPA "diet" set specific allowances for farms, construction and development activities, as well as homeowners and towns throughout the 64,000-square-mile Chesapeake Bay watershed. Farm Bureau maintains that Congress reserved such land-use decision-making exclusively for the states.
"Mr. Pruitt’s strong suit is he comes from a state agency," Don Parrish, AFBF’s senior director of regulatory relations, told the Washington Post last week. "He wants to work collaboratively with the states and be a little less top-down" compared to the Obama administration, Parrish said.