Is "environmental benefit denier" a term (Scott Pruitt Is Carrying Out His E.P.A. Agenda in Secret, Critics Say)?
Mr. Pruitt’s efforts to undo a major water protection rule are one example of his moves to quickly and stealthily dismantle regulations.
The rule, known as Waters of the United States, and enacted by the Obama administration, was designed to take existing federal protections on large water bodies such as the Chesapeake Bay and Mississippi River and expand them to include the wetlands and small tributaries that flow into those larger waters.
It was fiercely opposed by farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers.
The original estimate concluded that the water protections would indeed come at an economic cost to those groups — between $236 million and $465 million annually.
But it also concluded, in an 87-page analysis, that the economic benefits of preventing water pollution would be greater: between $555 million and $572 million.
E.P.A. employees say that in mid-June, as Mr. Pruitt prepared a proposal to reverse the rule, they were told by his deputies to produce a new analysis of the rule — one that stripped away the half-billion-dollar economic benefits associated with protecting wetlands.
“On June 13, my economists were verbally told to produce a new study that changed the wetlands benefit,” said Elizabeth Southerland, who retired last month from a 30-year career at the E.P.A., most recently as a senior official in the agency’s water office.
“On June 16, they did what they were told,” Ms. Southerland said. “They produced a new cost-benefit analysis that showed no quantifiable benefit to preserving wetlands.”
Ms. Southerland and other experts in federal rule-making said such a sudden shift was highly unusual — particularly since studies that estimate the economic impact of regulations can take months or even years to produce, and are often accompanied by reams of paperwork documenting the process.
The only positive thing is that this is going to be a great case study for teaching.