Friday, June 16, 2017

More emails show Pruitt's close ties to fossil fuel industry

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt
By AP writers Michael Biesecker and Adam Kealoha Causey:

Newly obtained emails underscore just how closely Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt coordinated with fossil fuel companies while serving as Oklahoma’s state attorney general, a position in which he frequently sued to block federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.

The latest batch of Pruitt’s emails, provided to The Associated Press on Thursday, runs more than 4,000 pages. They include schedules and lists of speaking engagements from the years before Pruitt became the nation’s top environmental watchdog, recounting dozens of meetings between Pruitt, members of his staff, and executives and lobbyists from the coal, oil and gas industries. Many of the calendar entries were blacked out, making it impossible for the public to know precisely where Pruitt traveled or with whom he met.

A June 2016 email that was released showed a board member of the Domestic Energy Producers Alliance seeking a last-minute meeting with Pruitt’s team to brief them “regarding a pending federal tax issue that is related to the state’s position on the Clean Power Plan.”

The trade group represents independent oil and gas producers, including the billionaire Harold Hamm, a political backer of Pruitt and frequent adviser to President Donald Trump. At the time, Oklahoma was one of more than two dozen mostly GOP-led states suing the EPA in federal court to stop the Obama administration’s effort to regulate carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“Greg is Govt Relations for Denbury Resources and is a gem of a dude,” wrote DEPA Executive Director Pete Regan, referring to oil and gas lobbyist Greg Schnacke. “He serves on DEPA executive Comm w Harold Hamm. AG Pruitt was on multiple exec calls on 2015 giving updates re ‘sue and settle’, endangered species cases, etc. ... Greg worked closely with Sen. Bob Dole and has great stories.”

A spokesman for Pruitt at the EPA declined to comment, referring questions to the office of current Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. Prior to his appointment by the state’s Republican governor, Hunter had worked as a top staffer for Pruitt.

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