Emails expected to be released Tuesday in EPA administrator controversy

By Ashley Bunton -

Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt

A citizen-based environmental advocacy group in Ohio said they are disappointed in the appointment of Scott Pruitt to lead the U.S. EPA.

Pruitt was nominated by President Trump in December to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was officially sworn in Friday after a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate.

As the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt repeatedly sued the EPA, a fact that hasn’t sat well with environmental advocacy groups across the country who opposed Pruitt’s nomination to the EPA.

Environment Ohio, a citizen-based environmental advocacy group in Columbus, said Pruitt worked against state-wide environmental protection while working as Attorney General in Oklahoma.

“As attorney general, Scott Pruitt joined with polluters to file 14 lawsuits against the very agency he will now run. These suits aimed to dismantle critical public health safeguards ranging from the Clean Water Rule that protects drinking water sources for 117 million Americans to the Mercury and Air Toxic rule that protects our kids and other vulnerable citizens from highly damaging pollution,” said Environment Ohio in a statement released shortly after Pruitt’s Senate confirmation was announced.

Other advocacy groups have issued similar sentiments over Pruitt’s nomination, charging that after Pruitt closed Oklahoma’s Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Unit after taking office, he received money from the gas, oil and coal industries that the environmental laws were attempting to regulate.

Today, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality oversees environmental complaints. The state’s solicitor general and the U.S. EPA’s division in Dallas, Texas handle federal environmental cases in Oklahoma.

President Trump promised during his campaign to end environmental regulations that he said hurt business growth. In Congress, the budget for the U.S. EPA has been cut by 20 percent in recent years. A majority of Republicans and a few Democrats applauded Pruitt’s nomination as the EPA Administrator.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said Friday he looks forward to working with Pruitt to “continue the work of protecting Ohio’s natural resources while also considering the economic impact of our regulations.”

On the other side, Pruitt’s confirmation vote was boycotted by a large majority of Democrats in the Senate, who voted him out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said he opposed Pruitt’s nomination because he does not believe Pruitt is up to the task “to make sure our children have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe.”

“Pruitt’s record speaks for itself: he has protected polluters over families, done the work of campaign donors instead of the public, and spent this decade trying to undermine the very agency he wants to lead,” said Brown.

Senate Democrats held the floor for 30 consecutive hours to postpone Pruitt’s confirmation until the emails and documents sent between Pruitt and the gas, oil and coal companies were released. Democrats in the Senate said the vote for Pruitt was forced ahead of the release of the emails and documents.

A judge ordered the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office to release the emails and documents after the office refused to cooperate with releasing them under the Open Records Act. The emails are expected to be released Tuesday, Feb. 21. Pruitt is scheduled to hold a conference with EPA employees and media outlets Tuesday at noon.

Scott Pruitt Pruitt

By Ashley Bunton

Reach Ashley at 740-335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton

Reach Ashley at 740-335-3611 or on Twitter @ashbunton