There’s a new sheriff in town, and nothing hammers it home like Thursday’s nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

A man suing the EPA may soon control it. We have confidence this appointment will directly benefit Colorado Springs and the rest of the country.

If confirmed, we hope Pruitt immediately stops the agency’s insane lawsuit against Colorado Springs. He can end it with a pen and a phone.

The EPA suit against Colorado Springs pertains to stormwater infrastructure problems the city is aggressively correcting. The suit threatens to enrich lawyers with the money our community could otherwise use to protect clean water.

We also hope Pruitt will stop federal regulators from obstructing plans to widen Interstate 25 and other essential transportation projects. State highway officials say EPA regulations could help tie up the I-25 project for 10 years, feeding bureaucrats and lawyers with money that could otherwise buy pavement. No one needs a decade to ensure two more lanes of asphalt, through an existing high-speed corridor, won’t destroy Mother Earth.

Those are some local reasons to applaud this selection. On a national scale, Pruitt’s leadership could fuel an economic resurgence. He could help turn smoldering economic embers into a raging inferno.

Environmental protection is important. That’s why President Richard Nixon created the EPA by executive order in 1970. Since then, careless abuse of the agency’s authority has inadvertently killed jobs and smothered economic growth.

Through the EPA, President Barack Obama tried to impose the Clean Power Plan. Pruitt sued to stop it, along with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and others. The Supreme Court of the United States, after reviewing the suit, put the plan on hold until it could hear the full case. The court ruled the plan may cause “irreparable harm” to communities and states, with lost jobs and other economic burdens.

The Clean Power Plan would force communities throughout the country to close power plants. They would be stuck with costs of replacement sources powered by solar, wind and natural gas. For some communities, the costs would be billions.

EPA energy regulations have ushered the early demise of the coal industry throughout Colorado and other states with economies and cultures built around mining.

Meanwhile, the EPA wants more onerous methane regulations that would stifle the oil and gas industry’s production of natural gas.

A variety of new and looming emissions regulations, combined with the government’s heavy corporate tax burden, have made the United States a less competitive host of manufacturing.

“For too long, the Environmental Protection Agency has spent taxpayer dollars on an out-of-control anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs, while also undermining our incredible farmers and many other businesses and industries at every turn,” President-elect Donald Trump said in a news release announcing Pruitt’s nomination. Pruitt “will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe.”

The environment is sacred and warrants protection. We should embrace and invest in new and emerging sources of power. Meanwhile, jobs and economies are also sacred and in need of protection.

We hope Pruitt, Congress and Trump can strike the right balance. Protect water and air, and allow our economy to soar.


(c)2016 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

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