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Bevin, 18 states call for EPA to back off

By James Bruggers The Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE -- Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin fired an­other shot at the U.S. Environmental Pro­tection Agency, adding Kentucky to 18 other states calling on the agency's new administrator to "end federal over­reach."

Indiana Attorney General Curtis T. Hill also signed the letter, along with 16 other attorney generals and the gover­nor of Mississippi.

"In recent years, many federal envi­ronmental regulations have been the product of political and social ideology," Bevin said in a written statement Tues­day that did not include examples. "To­day, our administration joined with other states in a letter urging EPA Administra­tor Scott Pruitt to roll back federal over­reach and return primary responsibility for the care of our environment to the ap­propriate state agencies."

Neither the letter nor the news re­lease commented on the Trump admini­stration's proposal to cut by 30 percent grants that states' already use to enforce laws like the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Bevin spokesman Woody Maglinger did not immediately return a request for comment about the funding issue, which the Courier-Journal reported on in re­cent days. A top state regulator last week told the newspaper that about a third of the Kentucky Department for Environ­mental Protection staff is paid for with EPA those funds. Also Tuesday, William D. Ruckelshaus, a Hoosier who was EPA administrator under Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Ronald Reagan, published a commentary for the New York Times, warning the Trump administration of its own potential overreach.

"Budget cuts that hurt programs that states now have in place to meet those duties run the risk of returning us to a time when some states offered indus­tries a free lunch, creating havens for polluters," Ruckelshaus wrote. "This could leave states with strong environ­mental programs supported by the pub­lic at a competitive disadvantage com­pared to states with weak programs. In other words, it could lead to a race to the bottom."

Reagan discovered the public de­manded health and environmental pro­tections, he wrote. The states that joined Kentucky in the letter included Alabama, Arizona, Ar­kansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Mis­souri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Caroli­na, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

"Respectfully, we ask that you consid­er the steps that the Agency may take to restore the principles of cooperative federalism embodied in these important statutes," the letter to Pruitt said.

Bevin recently described the EPA as "Frankenstein" and has called on Trump to "gut" the agency.

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