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.

 

 

 

 

 

12 hours ago

Nick Saban: I still consider Jalen Hurts ‘one of our players’

MOBILE — Former University of Alabama Crimson Tide star quarterback Jalen Hurts is still beloved by many in Bama nation, including head coach Nick Saban.

Saban has spoken this past year about his respect and admiration for Hurts. However, speaking to members of the media on Wednesday at the second day of Senior Bowl Week practices at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Saban made it clear he really feels that Hurts is still part of the Tide family.

To open his remarks, Saban said, “My only comment is we’re glad to be here. It’s always great to come back to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. It’s such a tradition, and I think this community really embraces this game.”

“It’s really good for the players to have the opportunity to showcase their talent, any player from any place but especially good to see our players be able to do it — and Jalen, who I still consider one of our players … always good to be here to support our players,” Saban continued.

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The legendary coach then answered questions for approximately four minutes.

He discussed what NFL teams will like about both Hurts and outgoing Tide junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Watch:

This came after Hurts this week has spoken highly of the University of Alabama football program, its fanbase and the state of Alabama.

Hurts will wear a two-sided helmet during Saturday’s Senior Bowl game; one side is a replica of his iconic No. 2 Bama helmet, and the other has the Oklahoma Sooners logo on it.

RELATED: Bama’s Jared Mayden glad to be reunited with ‘natural leader’ Jalen Hurts for Senior Bowl

Hurts recently said about Saban, “We always had a love for each other … our relationship will never die.”

Get tickets to Saturday’s Senior Bowl game here.

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

12 hours ago

Shelby County sheriff one of 18 officials appointed to Trump law enforcement commission

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego on Wednesday was named by the U.S. Department of Justice as an appointee to the newly-established Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr appointed Samaniego and 17 other law enforcement officials from across the nation to the commission, which was created through executive order by President Donald Trump in late October.

The commission will explore modern issues affecting law enforcement that most impact the ability of American policing to reduce crime, according to the DoJ.

“There is no more noble and important profession than law enforcement,” Barr said in a statement. “A free and safe society requires a trusted and capable police force to safeguard our rights to life and liberty.”

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“But as criminal threats and social conditions have changed the responsibilities and roles of police officers, there is a need for a modern study of how law enforcement can best protect and serve American communities,” he continued. “This is why the President instructed me to establish this critical Commission, whose members truly reflect the best there is in law enforcement. Together, we will examine, discuss, and debate how justice is administered in the United States and uncover opportunities for progress, improvement, and innovation.”

Read more about the commission here.

This comes after Samaniego was recently named as the winner of the 2019 Crime Stopper of the Year Award by Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama.

On Monday, he was one of eight Alabama sheriffs to publicly endorse former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ 2020 bid to return to the Senate.

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

12 hours ago

Etowah County mega-site to receive $2.7M in improvements

The Etowah County-located Little Canoe Creek mega-site is to receive $2.7-million in improvements as part of an effort to make it a more attractive location to potential industry.

The site is composed of around 1,100 acres just off of I-59 southwest of the city of Gadsden. The funding for the improvements comes from a donation by the Norfolk Southern Corporation.

According to a release sent to Yellowhammer News, the improvements “will include grading a portion of the over 1,000-acre property to create a pad-ready rail-served site sufficient to accommodate a large industry. Natural gas lines will be relocated near the edge of the property, and a new railroad crossing will be added to the industrial access road off U.S. Highway 11.”

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“The mega-site has many location advantages for industrial recruitment and this project will improve upon its assets and greatly increase our overall competitiveness,” said Marilyn Lott, economic development director for Etowah County.

Etowah County began buying the land that now composes the Little Canoe Creek site in 2008. In addition to bordering the local interstate, the site is also adjacent to U.S. Highway 11 and a Norfolk Southern mainline.

Little Canoe Creek was designated an “Alabama AdvantageSite” in 2018. Being labeled an “AdvantageSite” amounts to a guarantee from the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama “that the site is ready for major industrial use.”

According to local leaders, a key factor in the improvements announced on Wednesday is the Growing Alabama Tax Credit. A credit “is equal to 100% of the donating taxpayer’s contributions to the economic development opportunity during the taxable year for which the credit is claimed and may offset up to 50% of the taxpayer’s income tax liability.”

“We truly appreciate this funding made possible by Norfolk Southern and the state,” said Jeffery Washington, president of the Etowah County Commission.

“This infrastructure improvement project at the Little Canoe Creek Mega-Site perfectly illustrates how we can use the Growing Alabama Credit as a tool to facilitate growth and expand employment,” added Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

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

13 hours ago

Steve Marshall travels to D.C. to urge Senate to reject Trump impeachment articles

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday traveled to Washington, D.C. to file a blistering 14-page “friend of the Senate” letter urging the upper chamber to reject the two articles of impeachment filed against President Donald J. Trump.

The Senate on Tuesday began the impeachment trial of Trumps, and Marshall joined 20 of his Republican attorneys general from across the nation in signing the letter.

However, Marshall was only one of six of the attorneys general invited to the U.S. Capitol to attend a press conference Wednesday commenting on their letter and the impeachment trial.

Of the letter, Marshall remarked, “It is thorough. It is a full examination of both the facts and the law that the Senate has to apply. But despite that significant analysis, fundamentally what that letter is about is the idea of fairness — or maybe better said, the lack of fairness.”

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“As a prosecutor for 20 years, what I’ve seen is an unfair process brings about an unjust result,” Marshall advised. “And that is what the Senate now has an opportunity to stop.”

“I also find it remarkable, as somebody who has stood before juries and judges, whose brought charging instruments against defendants, to now hear the House say that they are not prepared. And that they are not ready. What that simply shows is not that they are not prepared but that they have no case,” he continued. “Our letter demonstrates the various reasons why the Senate should reject this effort, and we need to return the president back to the work of this country…”

Watch:

In a tweet referencing the letter, Marshall called the articles of impeachment passed by House Democrats against Trump “unfounded and fundamentally flawed.”

The letter states, “If not expressly repudiated by the Senate, the theories animating both Articles will set a precedent that is entirely contrary to the Framers’ design and ruinous to the most important governmental structure protections contained in our Constitution: the separation of powers.”

Read the letter below:

State AG letter to Senate o… by Fox News on Scribd

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

13 hours ago

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele inks three-year extension

Auburn University head football coach Gus Malzahn on Wednesday announced that defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has officially agreed to a new three-year contract that will take him through the 2022 season.

In a statement, Malzahn said, “Kevin has done a fantastic job with our defense the last four years making it one of the best in the country.”

“This will provide great stability and leadership for our defense in the future. I’m appreciative of Kevin’s hard work,” he added.

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Steele has been Auburn’s defensive coordinator for the last four years. During that tenure, the Tigers’ defense has ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense. Additionally, Auburn is one of only five FBS programs to hold opponents under 20 points per game in each of those seasons.

Malzahn and Steele were both spotted at Senior Bowl Week practice in Mobile on Tuesday.

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