Jeb Bush: Scott Pruitt is ready to turn around the EPA

Story highlights

  • Jeb Bush: In 2016, the American people were clamoring for a dramatic shift of power
  • He says Scott Pruitt is the right choice to head the EPA

Jeb Bush is the former governor of Florida and was a candidate for the GOP nomination for president in 2016. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)When Scott Pruitt and I assembled a Restoring Federalism Task Force last year, he headlined the plan: "Putting Washington In Its Place." Those five words sum up exactly what the American people were clamoring for in this election: a dramatic shift of power out of a broken Washington and back into the hands of the people.

Jeb Bush
I cannot think of a person more suited to lead the Environmental Protection Agency than Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, someone who understands how to rein in an out-of-control bureaucracy and ensure that Washington focuses solely on its core functions.
Pruitt and I share a common vision for empowering the states and limiting the intrusion of the federal government in every area of our lives. He understands that a government closest to the people is best able to serve their interests.
    Our country has been held back over the past eight years because the appropriate balance between federal and state powers has become totally skewed. Individual liberty and our constitutional order have been threatened. People's aspirations have been capped by a federal government that overextended its reach, and in no place has this been more apparent than at the EPA. The EPA has become a one-agency job killer, putting working people out of a job and increasing costs for everyone.
    The far left has tried to distort Pruitt's views in a lame attempt to make him into an anti-science boogeyman. The Scott Pruitt I know is far from it. Unlike liberals who want to shut down any rational debate about climate change, Pruitt has acknowledged human impact on the climate and supports a robust discussion about its effects and what the government should and shouldn't do to address it.
    In a 2013 speech, Pruitt demonstrated that he understood the proper role of the EPA, completely repudiating Democrats' ludicrous claims about how he would lead the agency:
    "May I say this to you and please hear my heart on this. ... It's not good for us to say that the EPA doesn't have any role. Because just think about it, you have a power plant in Arkansas that's burning coal irresponsibly or inconsistent with the statue, and it comes over to Oklahoma and Texas. So there is a role for the EPA, it's just that they assert themselves in ways that are above that role."
    At the EPA, Pruitt will balance the importance of protecting our environment -- ensuring clean air and water and being good stewards of our natural resources -- with maximizing the ability of free people to innovate and create without interference from the federal government.
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    I know Pruitt will be successful because I went through this process firsthand running for governor in Florida. Many Democrats claimed that my views were extreme and that I would ruin our beautiful and unique habitat. What they found was exactly the opposite. Applying conservative principles, we streamlined the bureaucracy, saved the state money and invested in Florida's environment, including setting out on a historic effort to restore America's Everglades -- something the federal government had failed to do.
    This model can be replicated in Washington under an Administrator Scott Pruitt. He will put long overdue limits on the rule makers and roll back those that are choking economic growth. He will ensure that we conserve our natural habitats and resources, while unleashing an energy revolution that will bring millions of jobs to our country.
    There have been several strong appointments by President-Elect Donald Trump, and Scott Pruitt is among the very best because I know he will pursue meaningful reforms that will improve people's lives. I hope all senators can put partisanship aside and resoundingly confirm this proven leader.