News 9 Exclusive: Scott Pruitt Talks About Changes At EPA

Thursday, November 2nd 2017, 11:00 pm
By: News 9

As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt not only vowed to fight crime, but to also fight Washington.

During his term here, he led a crusade against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, now he's running it.

Since taking the helm at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this year, Scott Pruitt has been dogged by controversy. News 9 sat down with him in his office in Washington, D.C. to find out how he's facing that controversy head-on.

"It's competitive," Pruitt said. "But let's focus on doing our work and doing it the right way."

For Pruitt, doing what's right has meant undoing many of President's Barack Obama's environmental initiatives, like the Clean Power Plan. That plan to reduce carbon emissions is among more than two dozen rules and regulations Pruitt aims to delay or roll back from the Obama era.

"I mean most folks look at the Obama administration and think they were the environmental savior," he said. "What did they actually accomplish, other than declaring a war on a certain part of our economy, fossil fuels?"

During his time in Oklahoma, the former attorney general led the charge against the EPA, claiming the agency exceeded its legal authority by imposing burdensome regulations on the energy industry. Now with President Trump in charge, Pruitt says he intends to right the wrongs of the past.

"Our job is to enforce the law. It's not to make the law," said Pruitt. "It's not to fill a vacuum if Congress doesn't do its job. And if Congress fails to do its job, I can't just go out and do it for them."

Pruitt came here to Washington saying he wanted to provide protection for the environment and freedom once again for American businesses and he has not backed down from his challengers.

"We need to get back into the business of saying we can be both about natural resource management and environmental stewardship, and not having to choose between jobs and environmental protection," he said.

Pruitt says his focus now is finding that balance by sticking to his back-to-basics agenda and working to do what he believes the EPA should be doing.

"That was what was so shocking to me when I got here, just the lack of urgency around a core fundamental responsibility that we have to improve air quality, to improve water quality, to see sites remediated, to see sites come off that superfund list," he said.

Now, that's his focus and he says he's up for the challenge.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity," he said. "The president I think has put me in a position that is very important to the American people."

Recently, Pruitt has been highly criticized for increasing his security staff up to 30 people with 24/7 protection. The EPA Inspector General says Pruitt has received four to five times the number of death threats his predecessor did, and they're currently investigating 70 of them.