Friday, June 02, 2017

Scott Pruitt, outspoken and forceful, moves to the center of power within the Trump administration

Less than four months ago, Scott Pruitt arrived in Washington with few connections to President Trump’s inner circle and took the helm of an agency where many employees were openly hostile to him. But the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency has emerged as one of the most influential policy architects in the president’s Cabinet, a skilled and sometimes brash lawyer who is methodically taking apart a slew of regulations and agreements affecting a range of issues, from manufacturing operations to landfills. Many of these actions remain works in progress: The United States’ exit from the Paris climate accord, which Trump announced Thursday, will take years, and EPA officials have just begun to rewrite many of the rules he has vowed to scrap. But their sweep — the most concrete manifestation of what the president vowed to do on the campaign trail — has come to define much of the White House’s domestic agenda. Jeremy Symons, associate vice president of climate political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group, said that while Pruitt would appear “to be too far removed from the center of power,” he has already had an outsize impact. “People underestimate him,” Symons said. In the wake of Trump’s Rose Garden speech on Thursday — when Pruitt stood beside him at the podium, before delivering his own remarks — fewer people will make that mistake. Pruitt played a decisive role in convincing the president that it made sense to abandon the U.S. commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions under the 2015 international agreement. In doing so, the 49-year-old former Oklahoma attorney general effectively prevailed over Trump’s secretary of state, his National Economic Council director and even his own daughter and son-in-law...more

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