Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt met with eleven Western Governors at a breakfast on Sunday, honoring a promise he made during his confirmation hearings and at CPAC on Sunday to reach out to state governments to re-establish trust.
“There’s distrust right now that exists between the states and Washington, D.C. as it relates to the environment,” Pruitt told the crowd at CPAC on Saturday.
“We need to do what we can to restore trust. I’m going to be spending time … with the state governors and the executive branches of [state] government … I’m going to send a message. Let’s join arm-in-arm to do what’s important for the environment,” Pruitt said.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Pruitt held the meeting with Western Governors, who appeared to welcome the dialogue. The governors of nineteen western states are members of the Western Governors Association.
“I look forward to working together with the Western Governors on issues unique to the Western States and with each of these Governors on issues important to their individual states,” EPA Administrator Pruitt said.
“These Governors and their states are great stewards of their natural resources. They want to protect their water and air and grow their economies. The Environmental Protection Agency is going to help them do that,” he added.
“In his first week on the job as EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt has now met with 18 Governors and Lieutenant Governors, putting into action his promise of an open door policy and a new beginning of partnership with the states,” the EPA said in its statement.
Last week, the Western Governors Association sent a letter to the EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, “reiterat[ing] concerns” over a propsed rule, Financial Responsbility Requirements under CERCLA for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry.
“Many western states rely on the hardrock mining industry for economic development and employment,” the governors wrote:
These states have staff dedicated to mine permitting and compliance. Such staff are committed to ensuring hardrock mining facilities are designed, constructed and operated in a manner that minimizes risks to the environment and ensures proper site reclamation.
“The EPA’s proposed rule … will negatively affect state economies,” they continued.
“It may also hamper existing, effective state financial assurance programs,” they added.
Pruitt’s meeting with the governors on Sunday is the kind of reaching out he intends to conduct with state governments across the country to address and respond to their concerns.
Twelve members of the group met with Pruitt on Sunday. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper did not participate in the breakfast, but was in attendance in other meetings.
Of the twelve members of the Western Governors Association who met with EPA Administrator Pruitt, seven are Republicans ( Governor Doug Burgum (N.D.), Governor Butch Otter (Idaho), Governor Mary Fallin (Okla.), Governor Brian Sandoval (Nev.), Governor Gary Herbert (Utah), Governor Dennis Daugaard (S.D.), Governor Matt Mead (Wyo.) ). Four are Democrats ( Governor John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Governor Kate Brown (Ore.), Governor Steve Bullock (Mont.), and Governor David Ige (Hawaii) ); and one member, Governor Bill Walker (Alaska), is an independent.
The seven members of the Western Governors Association who missed the meeting with Pruitt included five Republicans (Governor Doug Ducey (Arizona), Governor Sam Brownback (Kansas), Governor Pete Ricketts (Nebraska), Governor Susanna Martinez (New Mexico), and Governor Greg Abbot (Texas) ); and two Democrats (Governor Jerry Brown (California) and Governor Jay Inslee (Washington).