EPA'S Ly­ing Scott Pruitt Called Out

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Fol­low­ing in­con­sis­tent and con­tra­dic­tory tes­ti­mony from EPA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Scott Pruitt at two con­gres­sional hear­ings, the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity filed a mo­tion with a fed­eral judge seek­ing to de­pose Pruitt on how his of­fice cre­ates and main­tains of­fi­cial records to com­ply with trans­parency and open-records laws.

The Cen­ter’s mo­tion in the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the Dis­trict of Columbia is part of on­go­ing Cen­ter law­suit against the EPA. In 2017 the Cen­ter filed Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quests for Pruitt’s emails. The EPA re­fused to hand over records for months, un­til af­ter the Cen­ter sued. Al­though the agency then re­leased emails sent to Ad­min­is­tra­tor Pruitt, it did not dis­close any emails sent by him.

“Un­less Pruitt’s hauled be­fore a judge, it’s pretty ob­vi­ous he’ll just keep ly­ing,” said Brett Hartl, govern­ment af­fairs direc­tor at the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity. “Even Congress can’t get a straight an­swer out of him. Putting Pruitt on the wit­ness stand could fi­nally re­veal how he’s col­lud­ing with pol­luters to sab­o­tage pro­tec­tions for our air and wa­ter.”

Re­cent re­ports have re­vealed that Pruitt po­ten­tially has four of­fi­cial EPA email ac­counts. The Cen­ter’s mo­tion to de­pose him seeks to learn whether he is prop­erly pre­serv­ing emails as re­quired un­der fed­eral law and whether the agency is prop­erly search­ing all of his ac­counts in re­sponse to pub­lic-records re­quests.

Al­though EPA’S Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral has plans to probe Pruitt’s use of mul­ti­ple email ac­counts at the agency, the OIG has “nu­mer­ous other pend­ing mat­ters” and can­not say when re­view of Pruitt’s email ac­counts would be­gin.

Prior to be­ing con­firmed as EPA ad­min­is­tra­tor, Pruitt drew na­tional at­ten­tion for his time as the Ok­la­homa at­tor­ney gen­eral and his use of per­sonal email to con­duct of­fi­cial state busi­ness, about which he was not forth­right in his con­gres­sional con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings and other tes­ti­mony to Congress. The Cen­ter filed a bar as­so­ci­a­tion com­plaint chal­leng­ing Pruitt’s re­peated mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to Congress.

“Pruitt’s pen­chant for se­crecy vi­o­lates the fed­eral laws he has sworn to up­hold,” said Hartl. “The man now leading the EPA may feel most com­fort­able in the dark cozy­ing up to spe­cial-in­ter­est pol­luters, but it’s time for his dirty deal­ings to be made pub­lic.”

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