Not one of Scott Pruitt’s 714 Press Releases Describe Any Environmental Enforcement Actions or Penalties Against Polluters
Washington, D.C. – President Elect Donald Trump’s pick to run EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, issued 714 press releases during his six years as his state’s top prosecutor but not a single one described any kind of environmental enforcement action or penalty for a polluter, according to Pruitt’s website.
By contrast, an Environmental Integrity Project examination of the press releases posted by the Oklahoma Attorney General found at least 50 touting his lawsuits, testimony and speeches that challenge rules to reduce air and water pollution, condemn EPA, and question the federal government’s right to protect the environment.”
“What has Scott Pruitt ever done as Oklahoma Attorney General to protect the environment in his state?” asked Eric Schaeffer, Director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former head of civil enforcement at EPA. “You won’t find out by reading his press releases, but if he wants to be the new head of EPA, it’s fair to ask that question.”
A Senate confirmation hearing for Pruitt as EPA Administrator is scheduled for today (January 18).
Schaeffer’s critique of Pruitt’s record was published on the Op Ed page of The New York Times today.
Pruitt’s supporters claim he would be a good candidate for EPA Administrator because he would eliminate “job killing” regulations. But a new report issued by the Environmental Integrity Project this week, titled “Don’t Believe the ‘Job Killer’ Hype,” documents that there is no evidence to support this claim, with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing that only two tenths of one percent of layoffs caused by government regulations of all kinds, including environmental regulations. Layoffs are far more often caused by lower overseas labor costs, technological innovation, or corporate buyouts.
To read the new report, click here.
Pruitt’s history will be a focus of today’s Senate hearing. In contrast to his record as Oklahoma Attorney General, his predecessor, Drew Edmondson, formed an Environmental Enforcement Unit, which Pruitt disbanded. Edmonson’s team of four attorneys, plus investigators and support staff, investigated 142 criminal environmental cases between 1996 and 2010, including a major water pollution case against poultry producers in Arkansas, which Pruitt let drop.
Among Edmonson’s investigations were at least 50 felony environmental crimes, for which Edmondson and partner agencies filed charges and then issued press releases.
Edmondson’s environmental enforcement unit contributed to a successful joint prosecution of an oil company by EPA and Oklahoma. In that case, a subsidiary of Sinclair Oil pleaded guilty to two felony counts of deliberately manipulating wastewater discharges at its Tulsa Refinery in violation of the Clean Water Act in an attempt to avoid sampling results that might alert authorities to a water pollution permit violation. The company agreed to a $5 million criminal penalty.
A “Confirm Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator” website proclaims: “FACT: AS ATTORNEY GENERAL, PRUITT ENFORCED OKLAHOMA’S ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS TO PROTECT CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.”
But the website’s only example or evidence is a link to a 2012 article in The Oklahoman that describes a lawsuit against the BP oil company for double-billing taxpayers and a private insurance company for the cost of cleaning up fuel leaks from gas station storage tanks. This action, however, was initiated before Pruitt took office and was not an environmental enforcement case.
The headlines of many of Pruitt’s press releases reveal his hostility toward the agency he now seeks to run:
- “AG Pruitt to Testify before Congress on EPA Abuses,” reads a typical headline from June 28, 2012.
- “AG Pruitt Promises to Defend Oklahoma from EPA Power Grab,” was a press release headline from May 27, 2015.
- “AG Scott Pruitt to Testify about EPA Overreach at U.S. Senate Hearing,” read one from April 30, 2015.
Eric Schaeffer added: “Scott Pruitt’s has enthusiastically supported fossil fuel and agribusiness lobbyists in his public statements and lawsuits. “That’s just not enough to qualify you to head the EPA, which is supposed to protect the environment for every American.”
The Environmental Integrity Project is a 15-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to enforcing environmental laws and holding polluters and governments accountable to protect public health.
Media Contact: Tom Pelton, Environmental Integrity Project, firstname.lastname@example.org, (443) 510-2574