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Jeb Bush Returns, With Support of Scott Pruitt for EPA

The man who woulda, coulda, shoulda… In a piece on CNN, Jeb Bush makes the case for Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency. He pitches some of the right-wing red meat anyone of that ilk would want – limit “the intrusion of the federal government in every area of our lives,” rein in “out-of-control bureaucracy,” and more:

Our country has been held back over the past eight years because the appropriate balance between federal and state powers has become totally skewed. Individual liberty and our constitutional order have been threatened. People’s aspirations have been capped by a federal government that overextended its reach, and in no place has this been more apparent than at the EPA. The EPA has become a one-agency job killer, putting working people out of a job and increasing costs for everyone.

There is some truth to the job killing. The coal industry has certainly suffered (by intention, not as a side effect) under the Obama administration, losing over 20,000 jobs through 2015. But the natural gas and oil industries have seen gains, over 30,000 through the end of 2014, though that has declined in the past two years as the prices of these commodities plummeted. But to say that regulations are holding us back, while domestic production of oil and gas has never been higher, vaulting the U.S. to the top of all fossil fuel energy producers in the world, is nonsense.

Let’s recap the past eight years overall, a period in which we’ve risen from the wreckage of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, a downturn that began in the last year of Bush’s two terms in office. The U.S. has seen corporate profits rise sharply, to record levels, over 10 million jobs created (though there are other ways to look at this, unrelated to regulatory effects), the unemployment rate decline to under 5% (other ways to look at that as well), and a stock market increase of over 140% as of today, and 120% before Election Day this year.

If these are all the horrible effects of the EPA killing jobs, putting people out of work, and increasing costs for everyone, I’m not sure Bush should be screaming about it.

More to the point about Scott Pruitt:

…Pruitt has acknowledged human impact on the climate and supports a robust discussion about its effects and what the government should and shouldn’t do to address it.

I’d like to see how Pruitt has, “acknowledged human impact on the climate,” by finding some public statement or article with any support of this… and I can find absolutely nothing. Everything I see about Pruitt indicates he does not accept the prevailing research into the causes of climate change and has colluded several times with the fossil fuel industry to file lawsuits and challenge federal regulations.

Bush claims that he, during his term as governor of Florida, balanced the interests of business and the environment well, and therefore understands the proper role of the EPA:

I know Pruitt will be successful because I went through this process firsthand running for governor in Florida. Many Democrats claimed that my views were extreme and that I would ruin our beautiful and unique habitat. What they found was exactly the opposite. Applying conservative principles, we streamlined the bureaucracy, saved the state money and invested in Florida’s environment, including setting out on a historic effort to restore America’s Everglades – something the federal government had failed to do.

A notable example in Bush’s environmental record is his gutting of the law to protect the Everglades. In a huge capitulation to the sugar industry in 2003, Bush pushed an amendment to the landmark 1994 Everglades Forever Act that delayed the requirement to meet pollution goals by 2006 for another twenty years. Bush collaborated with the sugar industry to draft the bill. The sugar industry contributed around $750,000 to the Republican Party of Florida from 1998 through 2002, and later became a major donor to Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC. Now, the Everglades and most of central and south Florida is experiencing the effects of this neglect, partly related to Bush’s legislative “victory” in 2003, as well as to subsequent actions and inaction.

Bush on mirroring his ostensibly sensible approach at the federal level:

This model can be replicated in Washington under an Administrator Scott Pruitt. He will put long overdue limits on the rule makers and roll back those that are choking economic growth. He will ensure that we conserve our natural habitats and resources, while unleashing an energy revolution that will bring millions of jobs to our country.

It seems likely that 1) Scott Pruitt will not make protecting the environment his top priority as EPA director, and 2) that Republicans will have exactly what they desire – an EPA director who is an opponent of the environment and will push for the interests of big business over public safety, and likely be rewarded for it even more than he already has.

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