3 years ago

New EPA Will Restore Certainty and Confidence to Alabama’s Land and Business Owners

Yellowhammer’s Larry Huff (right) interviews new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was in Alabama yesterday and he took time to speak with Yellowhammer at Alabama Power’s Plant Gaston in Wilsonville—home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Carbon Capture Center.

On a southeast tour to further his Back-to-Basics plan to protect the environment, Pruitt said his focus for the EPA is that it will begin a new era of “regulatory certainty.”

When asked to elaborate on this idea, Pruitt said:

Achieving regulatory certainty on behalf of businesses simply means we’re going to act within the law. Over the past eight years, the EPA has been unpredictable, often going beyond its statutory limits. It has acted haphazardly with respect to its rulings, which paralyzes those we serve.

In other words, in the previous administration, farmers, ranchers, and businesses rarely knew how the EPA might interpret their actions, and Pruitt said he’s determined to reverse that trend.  “The last administration re-imagined the law,” Pruitt said. Under the Clean Water Act, for example, they completely redefined Waters of the U.S. to include everything from dry creek beds to drainage ditches.”

We asked Administrator Pruitt why he thought the EPA became an activist organization more than a legal one. “They wanted to make land use decisions,” he said. “They wanted to come into states like Alabama and tell farmers who’ve responsibly gone about their business for generations how to run their farm. This is not right; it’s not fair, and it’s going to stop.”

Mr. Pruitt expounded on this theme, pointing out that these farmers have a vested interest in conservation and environmental integrity. He said landowners obviously understand that it doesn’t serve them well to destroy the very thing that provides for their families—their land, air, and water. For this reason, he believes it was presumptuous of the previous EPA to assume that they knew how best use a person’s private land.

They wanted to come in and say, before you use your land to build a subdivision, drill a well, or run a ranch, you’ve got to check with us if it includes the Waters of the United States. And then they made the Water of the United States include a every puddle on a person’s land. We’re rescinding that and getting back to basics to ensure that as we do our job, we’re doing it withing the confines of what Congress has said the EPA should be doing: attaining clean air, water quality, superfund cleanup and all those things.

Pruitt provided a poignant example of the EPA’s past overreach, noting that under the three presidents that preceded Obama—Bush (41), Clinton (42), and Bush (43)—the agency issued a total of five federal implementation plans under the Clean Air Act over twenty years. Under the Obama administration, by contrast, the EPA issued more than 50 federal implementation plans in just eight years—ten times the number issued by three previous administrations combined.

“What that represents,” Pruitt said, “is an administration that said we are going to coerce the states and their citizens to do what we think is best, irrespective of how the statutes read. That era is over. We’re going to lead with clarity, under the lawful direction that the Congress prescribes.”

Pruitt, who filed multiple lawsuits against the EPA when he was Oklahoma’s Attorney General, also pointed out the fact that the EPA hardly has a stellar record in actual environmental achievements. “I sometimes ask this question rhetorically: what did the previous administration do that’s so great for the environment? The truth is 40 percent of the country—some 120 million people—still live in areas that don’t meet environmental standards. That’s the irony. President Obama was seen as the savior of the environment but, in truth, his EPA was focused on actions that usurped authority, while remaining passive where they should have implemented meaningful change. The Flint Michigan water crisis, which we are now fixing, is another example, and the list goes on. In other words, we’re going to focus on outcomes, not rhetoric,” Pruitt said.

Senator Luther Strange, who accompanied Pruitt on his tour of Alabama, noted that he wants to do all he can to support Pruitt in these efforts. “Legislatively, we’re trying to support Scott in areas where we can roll back over-burdensome regulations as rapidly as possible, and we’re also trying to confirm the team Scott needs around him to get this job done.”

Strange added, “You can see why I’m so enthusiastic about our new EPA chief. He’s the right man at the right time. I could not be prouder of my friend Scott Pruitt in the job he is doing to rein in the EPA and refocus this agency on following the rule of law as they seek to protect our beautiful environment….It’s a new day at the EPA. No longer will they work against the American people by introducing unnecessary, job-killing regulations that do nothing to achieve cleaner air or water, but simply act as a wet blanket on our economy.”

In closing, we asked Pruitt how life is going to be different for the Alabama farmer, landowner, and business owner. Following is his answer:

Under the previous administration a farmer had to get permission to sneeze. As I said earlier, in 2015 the EPA  declared puddles, dry creek beds, and drainage ditches to be ‘Waters of United States.’ This provoked a fear of being fined because a farmer had to stop and ask, ‘what about this puddle of water here? Is that under the control of the federal government?’ This was very effective in creating paralysis among landowners and business owners because there was always uncertainty. That’s why I started out by saying our overarching objective is to create certainty among those we regulate and serve. To them we now say, ‘here’s where the law gives us jurisdiction and we’re going to make sure that our actions are consistent with that law.’ Does this mean we’re going to fail to preserve our environment? Not at all. It simply means we’ll act within the confines of our authority, respecting the legal rights of private citizens and the states in which they live.

 

 

 

 

 

60 mins ago

Rep. Palmer: Why is it Joe Biden can send his wife out but he can’t go out?

Earlier this month, Jill Biden, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, began taking a more public role in her husband’s bid for the White House, participating in media interviews and campaign events.

However, Joe Biden has not been out and about as much as the former second lady, which has raised questions about the former vice president and his campaign.

During an interview with Mobile radio’s FM Talk 106.5’s “The Jeff Poor Show,” U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) asked that question and offered a theory as to why that is the case.

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“Here’s Jill Biden, living in the same house with Joe Biden, who is out doing interviews, who is out in meetings,” Palmer said. “She’s in her 60s. She’s not as old as Joe but I believe she is in her 60s, in that age group that is considered at risk. She is able to go out and meet with people. She is able to do interviews face to face but Joe can’t. So people ought to be asking themselves a question: Why is it he can send his wife out but he can’t go out?”

“There are a number of people who have a theory on that, not the least of which is he is a gaffe machine,” he added.

Palmer reminded listeners how Joe Biden’s struggles with gaffes go back decades.

“My first contact with Joe Biden was the very first work that I did in D.C. when I ran the think tank,” Palmer added. “That was Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing. And you may recall he had gone through controversy then … It is well known that he is surrounded in controversy and that he is a gaffe machine.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

12 hours ago

Alabama political leaders react to Kamala Harris as Biden’s choice for VP

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday selected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his running mate. Political leaders from both sides of the aisle in Alabama reacted to the news.

Harris served two terms as the attorney general of California before being elected to the Senate in 2016.

U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), the Yellowhammer State’s most prominent Democrat and a longtime Biden ally, wrote “I know the power and energy of African-American women & the difference their hard work made in my race. Now we’ll make history by electing our first African-American woman VP & I’m so proud that person will be my friend and colleague ⁦Kamala Harris.”

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Jerry Carl, a Mobile County commissioner and the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, was the first major member of the Alabama GOP to react.

“Did Sleepy Joe forget that only months ago Kamala Harris attacked him for his racist policies? Now he is handing over the reins of the Presidency to her and the radical left,” Carl’s campaign account tweeted shortly after the news broke.

“I am ELATED that my friend, colleague, & Sorority Sister Kamala Harris was chosen as Joe Biden’s running mate! Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are ready to take on the big fights and she’s already shown the courage and success to win big fights,” U.S. Representative Terri Sewell (AL-07) posted to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, the Republican nominee to take on Jones in November, commented on the news via Twitter.

“It’s no surprise that Joe Biden has selected a Socialist Democrat like Kamala Harris as his VP pick. Harris is as far left as it gets, and my opponent, Doug Jones, stands side-by-side with her on almost every critical issue,” Tuberville’s campaign posted. “They have voted time and again for late-term abortion, gun-grabbing laws, open borders legislation, and other far-left agenda items. We must not let Socialists like Doug Jones or Kamala Harris take over our country!”

Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan released a statement, saying, “Joe Biden’s VP pick drags the Democrats’ ticket even further to the left.”

Lathan listed a number of liberal measures Harris has supported before adding, “We look forward to the clear contrast in policies in the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence and Senator Harris. It will be a true mirror of the obtuse plans the Democrats want for our nation.”

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed, a Democrat, received Harris’ endorsement while he was campaigning for the office he now holds. He tweeted on Tuesday, “I like what I just heard” shortly after the news of Harris being chosen spread online.

“We are proud [Kamala Harris] has been selected to be Joe Biden’s VP. We look forward to helping her make history & make a difference over the next four years,” Reed added.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers’ (AL-03) campaign account wrote, “Joe Biden’s radical lurch to the left just became even more extreme,” in response to the Harris news.

President Donald Trump was asked about Harris during a press conference at the White House on Tuesday afternoon.

“She’s a big tax raiser. She has a lot of things to explain,” he said in part.

Biden and Harris will take on President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the general election this November.

Pence and Harris will debate at 8:00 p.m. CT on October 7.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

14 hours ago

Alabama Senate majority leader to SEC: Let them play

Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) sent a letter on Tuesday to Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, advocating for the SEC to allow its member institutions to proceed with the 2020 college football season this fall.

The letter came the day that the Big 10 and Pac-12 decided to cancel their fall seasons. Of the Power 5 conferences, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 have yet to announce if they will play football this year.

To try saving the season, a player-led #WeWantToPlay movement has popped up in the past few days, quickly gaining momentum nationally.

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University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and other prominent leaders in the world of college football have advised that most players want to play, and that players will very likely be safer following enhanced safety protocols developed by their teams rather than being back at home or left to their own devices on campuses all fall.

For example, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) head coach Bill Clark on Monday tweeted that his team had tested all 176 people in the school’s football building for COVID-19, with all tests returning negative.

“In addition to the [SEC]’s Medical Advisory Group providing a medical clearance for gameplay this fall, I have faith in the various health and safety guidelines being adopted by the Conference’s member institutions, who have themselves relied on the vast expertise of the medical professionals on their campuses and within their respective university systems,” Reed wrote to Sankey.

He added that on top of “the heightened health and safety protocols in intercollegiate athletics, each member institution has created health and safety guidelines campus-wide.”

“I have a tremendous amount of trust in the decision making of institutions such as the University of Alabama and Auburn University and wholeheartedly believe that every decision made by their respective administrations will prioritize the health and welfare of their students, faculty, and staff over all other considerations,” Reed continued.

“Member institutions and student-athletes have worked tirelessly to get back on the field this fall,” the senator said. “Depriving opportunities for student-athletes to succeed on the field will long lasting and potentially devastating consequences for their futures, with many student-athletes aspiring to compete professionally.”

Reed concluded by asking the SEC to “hear the calling of their member institutions and student-athletes and commit to competition this fall.”

You can read the full letter here.

Shortly after Reed sent his letter, the SEC via Twitter released a statement from Sankey.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

15 hours ago

Lawsuit challenging statewide mask order dismissed by judge

A Montgomery County Circuit judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to challenge the legality of Alabama’s statewide mask mandate.

The suit was brought by three Jackson County residents who thought the mask order, first ordered by Governor Kay Ivey in mid-July, was outside the bounds of what the government could put in place.

Seth Ashmore, the attorney handling the lawsuit, said on Tuesday his clients plan to appeal the ruling.

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Judge Greg Griffin handled the case at the circuit court level and made the decision to dismiss the suit shortly after a hearing conducted on Tuesday afternoon.

Both Ivey and State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, in their official capacities, were named as defendants in the suit.

The persons suing Ivey and Harris argued the mask mandate was “illegally adopted” and a “deprivation of liberty.”

Lawyers from the Alabama Attorney General’s office argued in their motion to dismiss the suit that the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 gave the Governor “ample authority” to require the wearing of masks by individuals when they are in public.

Both the lawsuit and motion to dismiss have been made available to the public by Mike Cason, a reporter for Alabama Media Group.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

15 hours ago

Alabama HBCU students chosen for Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED internship program

Birmingham-based Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED has held the 2020 edition of its annual “Pay It Forward” program, which aims to provide black college students with opportunities to celebrate achievement and further their success.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) students from 16 schools throughout Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED’s six-state footprint submitted applications earlier this year.

Now in its fifth year, the program was promoted actively across participating HBCU campuses. Coca-Cola reviewed the applications for the program, selecting 25 students total based on their impressive applications. This included seven students from Alabama HBCUs:

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Micah Hardge and Marion Brock IV, Alabama State University
Michael Howard, Miles College
Olivia Sarley, Stillman College
Jasimen Collins and Ayala Seaborn, Talladega College
Nia Reid, Tuskegee University

Normally, this program is a week-long, in-person experience; however, this year due to COVID 19, selected students participated virtually. These students engaged with Coca-Cola Company teams to learn more about the organization and how to conduct business most effectively during a two-day, informative development session held last week.

“Although we will not be able to meet these students in person this year, we are excited to get to know this remarkable group of ‘Pay It Forward’ interns,” stated John Sherman, president and CEO Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED. “Our intent through the two-day program is to encourage these young adults and help enable them to further develop career goals as they plan for the next phase in life.”

During this internship, students reportedly gained experience in a wide range of roles at Coca-Cola, including sales, production, marketing, pricing, event planning, packaging, philanthropy and community relations. The program exposes participants to real-world work situations, including business practices and protocols, how to network and other important skills that will prepare them for the job market.

Over 100 students from Coca-Cola’s partner HBCUs have participated in the Pay it Forward internship to date.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company United, Inc., founded in 1902 and headquartered in the Magic City, is the second-largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in North America and the third-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States. Now with its fifth generation of family working in the business, the Yellowhammer State company has approximately 10,000 associates located in more than 60 facilities across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn