Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

If you’ve been waiting for the right time to support our work—that time is now.

Our mission is simple: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

But without the support of our readers, this model does not work and we simply won’t survive. It’s that simple.
We must meet our Mid-Year Campaign goal but we need you now.

Please, support independent journalism today.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

'Where Are Scott Pruitt's Emails?' Sierra Club Demands After FOIA Request Turns Up Only One Message Sent by EPA Chief

"The idea that Scott Pruitt sent a single work-related external email during nearly a year leading EPA is absurd on its face."

Julia Conley

The Sierra Club and a government watchdog raised questions over the result of a FOIA request regarding Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt's four work-related email accounts, after the information released showed that he had sent just one external email over 10 months as head of the agency.

The Sierra Club, which has fought for more than a year to gain information on Pruitt's activities, issued a statement demanding that the EPA search the administrator's personal email accounts for messages related to his work leading the agency, which has been heavily focused on rolling back environmental safeguards and giving favorable treatment to the fossil fuel industry.

"The idea that Scott Pruitt sent a single work-related external email during nearly a year leading EPA is absurd on its face," said Justine Thompson Cowan, an attorney who has led the Sierra Club's lawsuit against the EPA over the agency's failure to respond to FOIA requests in a timely manner. "That's why the Sierra Club is demanding that EPA search Pruitt's personal email accounts for work-related communications, or certify definitively that he does not use personal email or secretive messaging applications like WhatsApp and Signal to circumvent records retention laws."

As Politico reported, Pruitt's personal email accounts should have already been reviewed by the EPA as part of the FOIA request:

Government officials can legally use private email accounts, but agencies are supposed to search those accounts when fulfilling public records requests.

The only external email turned up by the Sierra Club's FOIA request was sent by Pruitt last September to a consultant, regarding an event organized by the American Council for Capital Formation, a free market think tank. In November he also forwarded an email regarding a speaking engagement request to an email account whose name the EPA redacted in its FOIA documents.

"Americans should know what the EPA is doing, why it's doing it and who's influencing those decisions."            —Melanie Sloan, American Oversight

Pruitt has been under fire for ethical violations for much of his time as administrator, including the secrecy with which he's conducted government business.

The former Oklahoma attorney general refused to release his public schedule, restricted staffers from entering his office, and ordered a $25,000 soundproof phone booth for his office.

While EPA officials have claimed that Pruitt conducts much of his business via phone, watchdog group American Oversight obtained the administrator's phone records and found that the administrator has gone weeks without using his desk or cell phones at the EPA.

Pruitt's apparent refusal to carry out government business using a government email address, which is subject to public records-keeping laws, is cause for more concern over the interests he is serving as head of the EPA.

"The emails, if they exist, could show what these people want and then those emails could be compared to what the EPA does," Melanie Sloan, a senior adviser at the watchdog group American Oversight, told Politico. "Americans should know what the EPA is doing, why it's doing it, and who's influencing those decisions."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.


'We Need Action': Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe US

"The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion," Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Tina Smith wrote in a new op-ed.

Kenny Stancil ·

Motorist 'Tried to Murder' Abortion Rights Advocates at Iowa Protest, Witnesses Say

Although one witness said the driver went "out of his way" to hit pro-choice protestors in the street, Cedar Rapids police declined to make an arrest.

Kenny Stancil ·

'A Hate Crime': Oslo Pride Parade Canceled After Deadly Shooting at Gay Bar

A 42-year-old gunman has been charged with terrorism following what Norway's prime minister called a "terrible and deeply shocking attack on innocent people."

Kenny Stancil ·

'We WILL Fight Back': Outrage, Resolve as Protests Erupt Against SCOTUS Abortion Ruling

Demonstrators took to the streets Friday to defiantly denounce the Supreme Court's right-wing supermajority after it rescinded a constitutional right for the first time in U.S. history.

Brett Wilkins ·

80+ US Prosecutors Vow Not to Be Part of Criminalizing Abortion Care

"Criminalizing and prosecuting individuals who seek or provide abortion care makes a mockery of justice," says a joint statement signed by 84 elected attorneys. "Prosecutors should not be part of that."

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo