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A rally opposing Scott Pruitt for EPA head. (Photo: Lorie Shaull/flickr/cc)

New Docs Bolster Claims of EPA Head Scott Pruitt Being Fossil Fuel Puppet

Multiple meetings between EPA Administrator Pruitt and industry execs, as well as emails from his time as Oklahoma AG, affirm his close relationship with fossil fuel sector

Andrea Germanos

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has been described as an "ally," "puppet," and "tool and minion" of the fossil fuel industry.

Newly obtained documents reinforce that portrayal.

Exhibit A: emails newly obtained by the Associated Press that show "dozens of meetings between Pruitt, members of his staff, and executives and lobbyists from the coal, oil, and gas industries" during his time as Oklahoma's state attorney general—a position from which he sued the EPA over a dozen times.

A June 2016 email, for example, shows a push for a meeting "regarding a pending federal tax issue that is related to the state's position on the Clean Power Plan." That request came from a board member of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, an oil and gas industry group headed by fracking tycoon Harold Hamm, a Pruitt and Trump ally.

The new document dump, which is thousands of pages long, follows a separate batch of emails brought to the public eye in February which showed that Pruitt, during his time as Oklahoma AG, had "a close and friendly relationship" with the fossil fuel sector. Those emails were released after the Oklahoma County Court found that Pruitt withheld the records in violation of the state's Open Records Act. 

Exhibit B is Pruitt's calendar from Feb. 21 to March 31, 2017—a time period in which he was heading the EPA. It shows numerous meetings between Pruitt and fossil fuel industry heads.

The 35-page document was obtained by E&E News, and "details private meetings that the newly confirmed EPA chief had during his first days at the agency—some of which have not been previously disclosed."

The calendar shows a scheduled March 22 evening meeting at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. with American Petroleum Institute's executive committee and board of directors, who are a group of "45 CEOs representing a broad spectrum of the U.S. oil and natural gas industry."

Also included on the schedule is a March 20 meeting with BP America president John Mingé. There's also a March 30 meeting scheduled with George Damiris, CEO of petroleum refiner HollyFrontier. The calendar states: "Mr. Damiris would like to discuss the renewable fuel standard and point of obligation issue, as well as the broader EPA policies that impact the company."

Pruitt on Thursday also made his stance clear, when he testified before the House Appropriations subcommittee and heard from Democrats and Republicans alike who defended the EPA programs the 2018 budget proposal aims to slash. 

CNN offers one such example:

GOP Rep. David Joyce of Ohio was largely concerned about proposed cuts to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The White House budget would zero out the program completely. "For us, cleaning up the Great Lakes isn't just about cleaning up mistakes of the past, but providing new economic opportunities for the future," he said to Pruitt. "This work wouldn't happen without federal support. How will these functions be maintained if the GLRI is eliminated?"

If the hearing "is any indication," Grist writes, "many of President Trump's proffered cuts to environmental protection are dead on arrival." 

Still, writes Rhea Suh president of NRDC,

Even when Congress restores much of the EPA funding Trump seeks to end, the administration has told us what its priorities are: protecting big polluters, not our environment and health.

Pruitt affirmed those objectives, making clear that he'll continue to try to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, move forward with efforts to revoke the Clean Water Rule―which protects the streams that feed drinking water sources for one in every three Americans, along with countless wetlands―and otherwise weaken or eviscerate the safeguards we all depend on to protect our environment and health.

"The American people deserve better. Pruitt needs to stop trying to defend the indefensible and focus instead on defending our environment and health," Suh writes.


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