Trump’s Pick for EPA Sued to Release Emails
Maine’s Senators’ Votes? King, No; Collins, Maybe —
Thursday, February 09, 2017 11:42 AM
Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, was sued Tuesday for failing to release thousands of emails related to pollution cases he oversaw as Oklahoma Attorney General. Pruitt has acknowledged the emails exist, but failed to comply with a 2015 Open Records request.
Pruitt’s Senate confirmation vote may be the same week and could be the same day as the court hearing on the emails that could reveal how close his ties are to the oil and gas companies he would be tasked with overseeing as the head of the EPA.
The specific day for Pruitt’s confirmation vote and the court hearing were not announced as of press time.
The New York Times reported in 2014 on an email exchange between Pruitt and petroleum industry executives in Oklahoma that was released through an Open Records request. According to the Times, industry officials fed Pruitt a letter to send to the EPA in 2011 that said the EPA was overestimating air pollution near new natural gas wells. Pruitt copied the letter on to Oklahoma Attorney General letterhead and signed his name to it.
Regardless of the content of the emails, Pruitt is a controversial pick to lead environmental protection, since he sued the EPA several times as the state attorney general and has a potential conflict of interest with petroleum interests who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to his election campaigns.
Pruitt said he would seek counsel from EPA ethics experts for oil and gas projects and recuse himself as necessary.
One of Pruitt’s targets is the Clean Power Plan designed to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Maine does not produce a lot of air pollution but is “down pipe” for a lot of industrial and car pollution coming from the Midwest, according to an EPA regulator in the Boston office. The band of grey haze over sparsely populated Isle au Haut as seen from the top of Mount Battie in summer illustrates that air pollution regulations in the Midwest impact Maine air quality.
Senator Susan Collins, a supporter of the Clean Power Plan, said she has concerns about Pruitt’s suitability. If Pruitt is not confirmed before the weeklong February break starting February 18, Collins is likely to hear more concerns face to face when she comes home.
Senator Angus King said he will vote against Pruitt.