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EPA Turns on Obama-era Regulations

On Tuesday, Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Agency Center, announced that the Trump Administration would reverse the fuel emission regulations set by the previous administration.

In his speech on Capitol Hill, Pruitt took a shot at President Obama, calling his environmental guidelines “wrong” and that the agency was looking to outline new “appropriate standards.” Pruitt’s goal of loosening the car industry’s fuel emissions contributes to the Trump Administration’s overall goal of deregulation across private companies and corporations.

 Credit: Andrew Harnik

Credit: Andrew Harnik

Previously, the Obama Administration had called for car manufacturers to develop vehicles that average 50 miles per gallon, an initiative aiming to lower greenhouse gases maximize fuel efficiency. Pruitt argued that the standards “didn’t comport with reality and were too high.”

This is not the first time Pruitt had sided with energy companies and the coal industry. He has been on the record to deny the link between CO2  and global warming. While his tenure as Oklahoma’s attorney general, he sued the EPA 14 times, the very own agency he heads today.

Pruitt’s decision earlier this week is already under hot water. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy, called on the administrator to resign. In a press release on Thursday, Udall stated, “It’s past time for Pruitt to go, and I will be introducing a ‘Sense of Congress’ resolution calling on him to resign for the good of the American people.”

 Credit: Mark Wilson

Credit: Mark Wilson

This comes at a time when Pruitt is embroiled in a scandal of his own. A report last week by the New York Times detailed the EPA head renting a condominium from Canadian energy company Enbridge Inc. while giving the go ahead to their pipeline extension plan. This conflict of interest infuriated Congressional members, including two Republican lawmakers from Florida.

Backlash towards Pruitt continued as states across the country have retaliated Pruitt’s initiative. Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General, has threatened to sue. He also tweeted, “The Trump Administration’s assault on clean car standards risks our ability to protect our children’s health, tackle climate change, and save hard working Americans money.”

 Credit: House Democratic Caucus

Credit: House Democratic Caucus

Following Becerra, a lawsuit was filed on Thursday against Pruitt and the EPA, on grounds that the administration “failed to meet the Clean Air Act's statutory deadline for declaring areas of the country impacted by smog.” Despite the Clean Air Act giving the EPA the power to regulate air pollution, states such as California have already begun outlining laws to address their environmental concerns.

California can take such an initiative as long as its interests are protect public health and promote safety. The Act, passed in 1970, requires the agency to provide states with a waiver so that the state can continue carrying out its own regulations.

New York is another state that has addressed its concerns to the EPA’s recent announcements. Eric Schneiderman, the state’s attorney general, said that, “By continuing to ignore its legal obligations to cut this dangerous [smog] pollution, the Trump EPA is turning a blind eye to public health.”

 Credit: Andrew Burton

Credit: Andrew Burton

As of late Thursday, 14 states have joined California in their lawsuit against the EPA. Pruitt has long been a proponent of deregulation of the coal, fossil fuel, and energy companies, arguing that loosening tough restrictions will spark economic growth and create jobs.