An end game for EPA?
Last week Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was finally confirmed by the US senate and takes up his new position as head of the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) this week. President Trump’s choice of Pruitt has been criticised by environmentalists not least because he has been involved in several legal actions against EPA decisions and is also expected to slash the agencys budget and remove powers given it by a number of President Obama’s initiatives. Pruitt has not been the sole critic of EPA as more than half of the individual states in the US are involved in litigation against EPA decsions. Pruitt’s plans for EPA are expected to return rule making to individual states leaving EPA with its original role of monitoring air and water pollution. One of the measures expected to be taken is to remove CO2 from the list of pollutants enabling a revival of teh US coal mining and power production sectors. It is almost certain that EPA will also be relieved of its role in formulating US climate change policy. President Trump has already laid out plans to roll back former President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and the EPA’s Waters of the US(WOTUS) rule. Pruitt, who sued EPA over both, will lead in the dismantling of those policies. Returning the role of regulator to individual states may have some implications for shipping especially with regard to those states such as California which has a record of independent action on environmental matters especially ballast water and exhaust emissions. In the long run, a more sceptical approach to the idea of anthropogenic climate change will reflect in the US likely to resist rather than promote measures to control CO2 at the IMO and in other fora.