The sun did indeed rise on Saturday morning. Likewise, the day after and the day after that.
This might have seemed remarkable to those breathing in the Chicken Little hysteria surrounding Friday’s confirmation of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Radical green groups bleated that the former Oklahoma attorney general’s elevation all but ensured that the Earth was doomed and America’s children were now destined to live their lives through a haze of choking smog while consigned to drinking oil-tainted sludge from the tap.
Meanwhile, the progressive Twitterverse was awash with dire prognostications for the future of the planet and humankind, while fretting that Mr. Pruitt put the health and safety of all Americans in dire risk.
No doubt, all the overheated rhetoric will have the intended result — to mobilize the faithful and separate them from their cash. In fact, though, Mr. Pruitt promises to bring a more sensible approach to an agency that for the past decade has operated as if there were no constraints on its authority.
Mr. Pruitt’s agenda rests primarily on the notion of ensuring the EPA follows the law and more closely cooperates with the states. This is what passes for “extreme” to the church of environmentalism.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Saturday, Mr. Pruitt detailed his priorities, which include making the “health of our citizens” the “absolute focus of this agency.” Yet Mr. Pruitt will insist on working within the law rather than ignoring statutes to achieve desired results. Under Barack Obama, he argued, the EPA “displaced Congress, disregarded the law and, in general, said they would act on their own. That now ends.”
In other words, Mr. Pruitt vows that his executive agency won’t subordinate the authority of the legislative branch to unelected bureaucrats with itchy regulatory trigger fingers. The horror!
He also promises to more closely work with states to achieve desired goals. “Every statute makes clear this is supposed to be a cooperative relationship,” he told the Journal. Mr. Obama’s EPA, on the other hand, expressed the “attitude that the states are a vessel of federal will. They were aggressive about dictating to the states and displacing their authority.”
Mr. Pruitt also told the paper that he “rejects this paradigm that says we can’t be both pro-environment and pro-energy. We are blessed with great national resources, and we should be good stewards of those. But we’ve been the best in the world at showing you do that while also growing jobs and the economy.”
To the Sierra Club, all this makes Mr. Pruitt “the most dangerous EPA administrator in the history of our country.” To the National Resources Defense Council, this means he is intent on “harming our air and water, endangering our communities and surrendering our kids to climate catastrophe.”
There is indeed plenty of extremism on display here. But it isn’t coming from Scott Pruitt.