EPA chief denounces water rule in visit to Kentucky
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt found a friendly audience Thursday in his native Kentucky as he lambasted an Obama-era clean-water rule.
Speaking to a Kentucky Farm Bureau audience, Pruitt said the rule aimed at protecting small streams and wetlands from development and pollution was an example of federal overreach. He said it tried to redefine the Clean Water Act to cover puddles, dry creek beds and drainage ditches.
“The agency took a definition under the Clean Water Act and turned it into something that Congress never intended,” Pruitt said.
President Donald Trump’s environmental chief drew applause from the farm group when he said: “That’s being fixed.”
Pruitt also praised Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate deal, and criticized former President Barack Obama’s administration for its attitude toward production of coal and other resources.
Kentucky is one of the nation’s top coal producers.
“It’s my view that the past administration, it was about prohibition,” he said. “It was about looking at our natural resources and saying we can’t use certain natural resources. Now think about how crazy that is ... We should use those natural resources to feed the world and power the world.”
Pruitt described it as a “false choice” to have to choose between promoting economic growth or protecting the environment.
Pruitt, who grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, also tweeted Thursday that he met with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and members of his cabinet to “discuss ways EPA and Kentucky can work together to advance environmental stewardship.” The Republican governor then retweeted that post, saying “America is blessed to have a public servant like (Pruitt) who works diligently to be a good steward of the earth and protect America’s working class.”