·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and Heavy Industry’s Ties

— February 24, 2017

A slew of e-mails revealed just yesterday show the disturbing ties between newly-appointed EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and heavy industry.

The appointment of the former Attorney General of Oklahoma has been mired in controversy. Since he was first nominated to the post by President Trump, critics have wondered how a man with a record of cozying up to fossil fuel and pipeline corporations could possibly defend our natural resources from exploitation.

The Republican-held Senate confirmed Pruitt hours after a judge ordered communications between Pruitt’s office and oil companies to be made public. The order was the result of efforts by the Center for Media and Democracy. A watchdog organization, the Center had been trying to pull away the sheets to reveal how comfortably in bed Pruitt was with fossil fuel.

Salon posted a link to Scott Pruitt’s LinkedIn profile, which had once described its keeper as a “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” His efforts to pounce upon the over-reach of big government regulations have netted him lucrative speaking deals and choice restaurant advice from Devon Energy. Some of his staffers had exchanged emails with employees at Devon, asking about the best bars in Oklahoma City and requesting to take tower-top trip with their children.

None of the revelations should come as any shock, considering Pruitt’s pockmarked record. The man now in charge of an agency responsible for environmental protection filed a suit against the EPA for trying to clean up the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. The Bay is among the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. Pruitt fought against from his office two-thousand miles away, believing the work should have been done by state agencies. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why industries he now supposedly regulates had joined in as plaintiffs on some of his past pieces of litigation.

Garbage in the Anacosta River off the Chesapeake Bay; photo courtesy of Jason Lenhart, News21
Garbage in the Anacosta River off the Chesapeake Bay; photo courtesy of Jason Lenhart, News21

However, Pruitt wasn’t unpopular or loathed in his home state of Oklahoma. Heavily dependent on a variety of energy industries, the attorney general had joined forces with business mogul Harold G. Hamm of Continental Resources. Pruitt and Hamm together had resisted an effort to add certain animals to the endangered species list, fearing that protecting wildlife could jeopardize the expansion of drilling operations.

Bloomberg summarized the over-7,000 emails exchanged between Pruitt and fossil fuel as “chummy.” Devon Energy Corp, Koch Industries, Inc., and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers even offered advice to the then-attorney general on how he could best fight against “environmental regulations meant to protect air and water.”

Other e-mails showed how Pruitt had collaborated with American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufactures on eliminating annual biofuel quotas. He accepted a drafted petition, made a few stylistic changes, and submitted the finished version to the state of Oklahoma as a legal action.

All of what’s revealed in the e-mails seems out of character for a prospective head of the Environmental Protection Agency. While choosing chiefs with ideologies at odds with their own organizations can lead to streamlining and the removal of unnecessary regulations, Scott Pruitt does not seem dedicated to the mission of the EPA. He is a former climate change denier who only changed his position during a senate confirmation hearing.

The released e-mails do little other than confirm the suspicions of most rational Americans – that the man is incompetent to head the organization whose goals he has for so long stood against.


E-Mails Reveal EPA Chief Cozied Up to Industry He Regulates

Energy Firms in Secretive Alliance With Attorneys General

Fossil fuels’ BFF: Scott Pruitt’s emails show why Republicans rushed through his EPA confirmation

Trump’s nominee to head EPA has opposed the Chesapeake Bay cleanup

Join the conversation!