Since 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency has been embroiled in an enforcement battle with a MICHIGAN-based company accused of modifying the state’s largest coal-fired power plant without getting federal permits for a projected rise in pollution.
On Dec. 7, as the Supreme Court was considering whether to hear the case, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt issued a memo that single-handedly reversed the agency’s position. No longer would the EPA be “second-guessing” DTE Energy’s emission projections. Rather, it would accept the firm’s “intent” to manage its pollution without requiring an enforceable agreement — part of President Trump’s broader push to reduce the “burden” on companies, he wrote.
The little-noticed episode offers a glimpse into how Pruitt has spent his first year running the EPA. In legal maneuvers and executive actions, in public speeches and closed-door meetings with industry groups, he has moved to shrink the agency’s reach, alter its focus and pause or reverse numerous environmental rules. The effect has been to steer the EPA in the direction sought by those being regulated.
‘He didn’t pretend he was going to be Theodore Roosevelt,’ one conservation leader says of Pruitt’s industry-friendly approach.