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Administrator Pruitt Testifies before Senate EPW

Earlier today, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testified before the full Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee.  Administrator Pruitt reemphasized his “back to basics” mission by describing progress toward his three primary goals:  to refocus the Agency to its core mission; to restore power to the states through cooperative Federalism; and to “lead EPA through improved process and adhere strictly to the rule of law.”

Over the next three years, Pruitt stated, the Agency will focus on Superfund site cleanups; streamlined review of air quality plans; and efforts to “make water cleaner and safer by helping to update our nations [sic] aging infrastructure.”  More specifically, the Administrator called for a “war on lead” in drinking water through addressing our aging infrastructure challenges.

Pruitt went on to say, “Our mission will be supported by strong compliance assurance and enforcement efforts in collaboration with our state and tribal partners, and by use of best available science and research to address current environmental hazards, develop new approaches, and improve the foundation for making sound decisions.”  In recognition of state and tribal implementation advances, Pruitt promised to “…undertake a series of initiatives to rethink and assess where we are and where we want to be with respect to joint governance…to clarify the Agency’s statutory roles and responsibilities…”

Much of the discussion between Committee members and the Administrator centered around issues relating to the Clean Power Plan, WOTUS, Superfund, regulatory streamlining, and climate change.  During the Q&A period, Mr. Pruitt did note the Agency’s ongoing interest in remediating PFOA and PFOS contamination and finding an appropriate path forward.  One interesting exchange took place between Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and the Administrator on EPA’s Lead Risk Reduction Program.  According to Sen. Duckworth, the FY 19 EPA budget request would eliminate this program.  Administrator Pruitt explained that the Agency is considering how best to restructure many of the Agency’s programs; however, he noted that, in his opinion, zero is the only allowable lead limit.  Editor’s Note:  No details on the President’s FY 19 budget request for EPA are yet publicly available.  The budget is expected to be released on Monday, February 12.

To view a recorded version of the hearing and download a copy of Administrator Pruitt’s testimony, please click here.  Note that the hearing lasts for more than two and a half hours.