Press Releases

Beyer: Scott Pruitt’s Attempt To Undermine The Clean Air Act “Illegal and Immoral”

Rep. Don Beyer today issued the following statement on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s “Back to Basics” memo instructing the EPA to begin factoring “economic effects” into its decisions on setting clean air standards:

“Scott Pruitt’s latest attempt to undermine air pollution standards set by the Clean Air Act is illegal and immoral. The only ‘basics’ that his actions would take us ‘back to’ are the era when cities were shrouded in lethal air pollution and American rivers burned.

Weakening clean air standards to help polluters will not eliminate costs, it will shift them to people’s medical bills. The Clean Air Act directs Pruitt to ‘promote the public health,’ not to help the bottom lines of the lobbyists, special interest donors, and polluters who have given him his marching orders since he came to the EPA.”

Scott Pruitt’s memo directed the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) as required by Clean Air Act, Section 109, with consideration for the “impacts of a NAAQS revision on economic activity.” The United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2001 that “Section 109(b) does not permit the Administrator to consider implementation costs in setting NAAQS.” That decision, in Whitman v. American Trucking Ass'ns, Inc., was written by the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Representative Beyer was the first Member of Congress to issue a formal statement calling for Scott Pruitt’s resignation. He led 64 House Democrats urging the President to dismiss Pruitt, and has led numerous oversight initiatives focused on Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA. He serves as the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and the Ranking Member of its Subcommittee on Oversight, and as co-Chair of the Congressional Safe Climate Caucus.