EPA Director: Paris Agreement is 'a bad business deal'

politics | May 19, 2017 | By Martin Barillas

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt said that Barack Obama was not the environmental “savior” that Democrats made him out to be during his presidency. He also spoke to the need for the country to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which he said was a “bad business deal for the United States.” Speaking Fox Business’ “Varney & Company” this week, Pruitt said that the U.S. is currently at pre-1994 levels as to its carbon-emissions footprint. Nevertheless, Pruitt sees that the U.S. will be a leader on environmental issues.
 
“When you look at Superfund sites, which are sites across the country that have land waste Uranium and Lead 1322 sites across the country that’s more than when President Obama came into office, so it increased under his watch… The areas that he focused on as far as CO2, he struck out twice before the U.S. Supreme Court, they struck him down as far as the actions he took,” he said on FOX Business' “Varney & Company.”
 
Fox News host Charles Payne spoke to the effect of the “natural gas phenomenon”, which he said is a “God-send” on carbon emissions. In response, Pruitt attributed the drop in CO2 to “innovation and technology, not government mandate.” As to the Paris agreement, Pruitt asked, “So why do we go to Paris, and lie prostrate as a country, before the rest of the world?”
 
“We are the United States. We are leading on this issues,” Pruitt said, “through action, not words.” He went on to say, “Paris represents an agreement that puts America last, not first. 
 
“We need to export. Let’s have a Paris to Pittsburgh session. Let’s bring the world to this country and say ‘Look at what we’re doing to reduce our CO2 footprint. That’s what you need to be doing in China and India.’”
 
Pruitt pointed out, “Paris represented a situation where China and India went ahead and didn’t take any steps to address C02 reductions, while we front loaded our cost, contracting our economy 2.5 trillion dollars in gross domestic product over a 10 year period.” 
 
On “Fox & Friends,” Pruitt said that following President Trump’s foreign travel, a decision on the Paris Agreement is expected. “I think probably after the president gets back from the G-7, and I’m actually attending the G-7 in early June, there will be a decision on Paris. Very important that we make steps there soon,” Pruitt said. The G-7 meeting in Brussels will be Trump’s last stop on the trip, which begins in Saudi Arabia.
 
On other pressing environmental issues, Pruitt said on Wednesday that the EPA is coming up with plans to address the toxic West Lake Landfill outside of St. Louis, Missouri. He said that the failure to deal with this radioactive waste site, during the Obama administration, was unacceptable. “We’re very focused on West Lake,” the EPA director said. “We have a plan in place that we’re going to announce very soon on West Lake.” Some private funds will be utilized, he said, to clean up the sites. 
 
Pruitt said Wednesday that Barack Obama was considered "an environmental savior," the EPA nevertheless did not take steps "at all" to clean up numerous sites around the country that pose a "great risk" to citizens. "[There is] a site outside of St. Louis called Westlake that's taken the EPA 27 years to make a decision," said Pruitt. "Not to clean it up, but to make a decision on what should be done to clean it up."
 
He added that "almost 40 percent of the country" has areas that do not meet federal air quality standards, affecting some 120 million people. "We had Gold King in Colorado, Flint in Michigan with water, Superfund sites across the country," said Pruitt. "We are very focused on East Chicago, a site that has lead." Taking decades, he said, to make a decision is "unacceptable," and added, "Get St. Louis cleaned up." Noting that funding and personnel are available for environmental remediation, Pruitt said, "It's not a matter of money." He said, "It's a matter of leadership and attitude and management. We need to do to clean it up.”
 
During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to pull the United States out of the U.N. accord, which was reached in 2015 but has not been endorsed by Congress. Nicaragua and Syria were the first two countries to leave the agreement. 
 
Despite media focus on the Russia investigation and a new special counsel, Pruitt said that the president is "providing leadership in so many areas, but it gets lost in the Washington D.C. malaise."


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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