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Institutional Pathologies in the Regulatory State

What Scott Pruitt Taught Us About Regulatory Policy

While Scott Pruitt’s aggressive deregulatory agenda while he served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency got significant attention, many of his actions have been successfully challenged in the courts. This Article, published in the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, argues that these deregulatory efforts have been plagued by five pathologies that contributed to their legal vulnerability. First, Pruitt’s EPA was driven by political ideology and extremism. Second, he isolated himself from career staff at the EPA. Third, trade associations, which have exerted significant influence, were often dominated by extreme views within the group. Fourth, industry has been slow to adapt to how the Trump Administration has operated. And fifth, short-term political thinking has shifted focus away from long-term policy success.

These pathologies were not limited to Pruitt’s hapless tenure. They continue to hobble the work of the EPA and of other agencies in the Trump Administration and could stand in the way of the accomplishments of future administrationsûboth Republican and Democratic.