Balance: Incoming EPA chief has right attitude

Last month, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he was encouraged by the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At the time, Morrisey said he believed the nomination would mean good things, and he was optimistic Pruitt could be a reasonable voice for the Mountain State.

It appears Morrisey’s optimism was well founded, as a recent meeting with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., prompted Pruitt to say he hoped to be able to work with both Manchin and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to “find the right balance that works best for the people and the environment of their very special state.”

Pruitt can go a long way toward finding that balance if he is able to simply stop the aggressive targeting of West Virginia and other energy-producing states by the EPA.  Beyond that major attitude shift, the wishlist for Pruitt (should his nomination be confirmed) includes a withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan, re-evaluation of the Stream Protection Rule, and repeal of the Methane Rule.

It would be nice to think a properly led EPA would want to dig in on the environmental and health concerns that do not provide easy targets, as fossil fuel industries have. In fact, Pruitt appears to have indicated he will work on the “clean water challenges” West Virginians have experienced — Vienna and Parkersburg were among the cities cited by Manchin as being part of that discussion. To do so, Pruitt has committed to visiting West Virginia, if he is confirmed. That is something his predecessor, Obama-appointee Gina McCarthy, never bothered to do.

Time will tell whether Pruitt is able to lead an EPA that is indeed protecting both the environment and the people who live in it. Based on his early conversations with West Virginia’s Congressional delegation, he appears to be off to a good start.