It is time for change at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Over the past seven years, the nation has endured a rogue agency distracted from its core functions. The result has been regulatory uncertainty in the form of federal mandates crafted by unelected bureaucrats. This has crippled our economic growth and opportunity.
This call for change at the EPA is not an attack on the environment, but rather a conscious decision to move away from the unlawful means used by the Obama administration to implement policies rejected by Congress and the American people.
Republicans and job creators alike support clean air and clean water. In fact, private-sector innovation has allowed our nation to leverage domestic energy resources and make them cleaner and more efficient. The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, of which I am proud to have been an original cosponsor, continues to produce positive environmental results. Air pollution has been reduced by 68 percent while energy consumption has increased by 44 percent. Our air is cleaner today than it has ever been and cutting-edge technologies in the energy development industry have been the key driver; not federal mandates.
The EPA under the Obama administration has failed to give innovators and job creators a seat at the table when developing regulations. Obama's EPA has also excluded states – the entities most impacted by regulations – instead expanding federal authority into areas beyond the limitations Congress has put into place. And yet big-pocket activist donors were invited in through the back door to help draft legally questionable mandates, while EPA was also asking Congress for more taxpayer money to hire lawyers in preparation to defend these regulations in court.
When the American people voted for President-elect Donald J. Trump, they made it clear that enough is enough.
Historically, the most successful environmental policies are those put forward by Congress and enacted into law with strong bipartisan support. Under a Republican majority this year, Congress has done just that. We passed the largest reform of environmental law in the past two decades by amending the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which is implemented by the EPA. TSCA garnered support from every corner of America – Republicans, Democrats, local and federal government leaders, industries large and small, and environmental activists.
We have also ensured that the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program are adequately funded so that states can lean on the federal government when necessary to ensure their communities have access to clean and safe water resources.
Republicans have and will continue to put Americans' economic well-being and environmental health on equal footing.
I have no doubt that with Oklahoma's Attorney General Scott Pruitt at the helm of the EPA, the Trump administration will restore this balance. Under Pruitt's leadership, EPA will return to an agency that works to protect human health and the environment based on sound science and transparent data while respecting the laws passed by Congress. Most importantly, the agency will no longer be a barrier to economic growth, but rather an important partner.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is the senior U.S. Senator from Oklahoma and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.