When Donald Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a staunch critic of the Obama administration’s environmental policies, to head the Environmental Protection Agency, the far-left flew into hysterics. In doing so, those individuals may have played into Trump’s hands and strengthened the president-elect’s grip on voters in the Midwestern states that gave him his Electoral College victory.
Pruitt has vigorously opposed regulatory overreach in federal court. Thus, Pruitt “could be the most hostile EPA administrator toward clean air and safe drinking water in history,” declared Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent socialist from Vermont, said, “At a time when climate change is the great environmental threat to the entire planet, it is sad and dangerous that Mr. Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA.”
Writing at the Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson proclaimed Pruitt’s nomination “historic” because no one “has ever headed the EPA with his level of anti-science, anti-environmental record …”
The New York Times editorialized, “Had Donald Trump spent an entire year scouring the country for someone to weaken clean air and clean water laws and repudiate America’s leadership role in the global battle against climate change, he could not have found a more suitable candidate than Scott Pruitt …”
The aforementioned critics didn’t intend those comments as compliments, but for many voters — including some Democrats — those criticisms may be just that.
Writing at National Journal, Josh Kraushaar noted that “the most glaring problem for the Democratic Party is an unwillingness to even entertain the possibility that its policy agenda had anything to do with its stunning defeat” in the presidential race.
In particular, Kraushaar argues that Democrats’ obsession with environmental extremism is costing them votes.
“Taking a more moderate stand on energy policy — whether it’s supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, championing the fracking boom that’s transforming regional economies, or simply sounding a more skeptical note on the Obama administration’s litany of environmental regulations — would do wonders for the Democratic Party’s ability to compete for the working-class voters who have drifted away from the party.”
Kraushaar points out that in 2010, one-third of U.S. House seats lost by the Democrats were in Midwestern states. In 2014, Republicans aired more than 26,000 ads citing the EPA and regained the Senate and won the most House seats in decades. A March 2014 Pew Research Center poll found a 49 percent plurality of Democrats supported building the Keystone XL pipeline. Among Democrats earning $50,000 or less annually, Keystone supporters outnumbered opponents by 22 percentage points. Citing a Democratic operative, Kraushaar argues Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania because of rural voters upset by the Obama administration’s war on coal.
Voters’ animosity toward the EPA isn’t unfounded. The agency has compiled a record of arbitrary and capricious regulation that yields no tangible benefit to citizens, but does extract a huge toll on their personal finances and economic opportunity.
Struggling working-class voters have grown tired of footing the bill for limousine liberals’ ideological obsessions. Thus, the howls of outrage now emanating from the green lobby are music to those voters’ ears.
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