PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When it comes to the nexus of a clean environment and jobs in industries once known for pollution, Pittsburgh is ground zero.
At the White House this week, KDKA political editor Jon Delano met Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Delano: “What’s more important, the environment or jobs?”
Pruitt: “Both, and that’s a great question, Jon, because as a country throughout our entire existence since the 70’s when the EPA was created and the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act were adopted and all the updates to that piece of legislation, we’ve had a commitment to growing our economy and also protecting our environment.”
Pruitt, President Trump’s choice for EPA administrator, now heads an agency he sued many times as Oklahoma Attorney General.
“The days of an agency in Washington DC picking winners and losers, the days of a regulatory assault on an industry such as coal, are over,” says Pruitt.
Pruitt says he’ will restore balance to the EPA to help keep coal jobs, shale jobs, and steel jobs in western Pennsylvania.
“We need to restore the manufacturing base in this country, and largely while we’ve seen manufacturing exit this country is environmental impact and environmental obligations.”
“We’ve put ourselves at a disadvantage as compared to other nations around the globe.”
EPA’s administrator says the United States can maintain environmental quality at the same time.
“We are at pre-1994 levels of CO2, 65 percent decrease in air pollutants since 1980. We do it better than anyone in the world.”
Asked him about fracking and its impact on drinking water quality, he noted, “The EPA before my time as administrator has looked at that very issue. Does hydraulic fracturing threaten the water tables or groundwater? The answer’s been no.”
Pruitt, who rejects carbon dioxide as a primary contributor to global warming, says he’s not the most anti-environment administrator in history.
“Well, as Paul Harvey used to say, let’s wait for the rest of the story. The thing is that the people who say that don’t know me,” says Pruitt.
Delano: “So the environment will be cleaner at the end of your four years?”
Pruitt: “We are working today toward that end.”
That’s a pledge he intends to keep.