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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats on the U.S. Senate’s environment panel on Wednesday asked President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency to disclose his ties to the energy industry ahead of his confirmation hearing early next year.

The six senators sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma Attorney General led several lawsuits against the Obama administration’s EPA to block its environmental rules. They asked him to list his connections to energy companies, to weigh whether these will influence his ability to run the agency.

“What that conduct says about your ability to lead EPA in a manner that is not beholden to special or secret interests is a subject that we expect will receive a full airing during your confirmation hearing,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The senators raised concerns about a 2014 New York Times report, which found that Pruitt’s policy positions as Oklahoma’s top attorney reflected his close ties to Devon Energy Corp.

For his part, Pruitt told The Oklahoman newspaper that Devon Energy was a constituent he represents and the company made people aware of regulatory overreach on fracking.

The senators also noted Pruitt’s involvement with the Rule of Law Defense Fund, which they said supports initiatives by the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who have opposed the EPA’s climate change regulations.

They asked Pruitt to submit details about his connections and contributions to the fund, his communications with the fund and a “list of all federal and state legislation or regulations the Fund has taken a position on.”

“The confirmation process, starting with your responses to Committee questions before your hearing, is an opportunity for you to dispel the notion that the advocacy you have undertaken on environmental issues as Attorney General of Oklahoma has been directed by and for the benefit of the energy industry,” the senators wrote.

The senators who sent the letter are Rhode Island’s Sheldon Whitehouse, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, New Jersey’s Cory Booker, Massachusetts’ Ed Markey and Maryland’s Ben Cardin.

Rule of Law Defense Fund spokesman Jordan Russell accused the Democratic senators of launching “politically motivated attacks” against his organization, which takes positions on issues from healthcare to federalism. He said donor confidentiality has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

“It is unfortunate that certain Democrat Senators appear willing to trample First Amendment rights in order to score cheap political points,” he said.

(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy and David Gregorio)

IMAGE: Attorney General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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9 responses to “Senators Ask Trump EPA Chief Pick To Disclose Energy Industry Ties”

  1. dbtheonly says:

    Now watch the RWMO start the attack on these Senators.

    Job destroyers and Anti-American, are my picks for those themes.

  2. FireBaron says:

    Sorry, Pruitt, but when you are the State Attorney General, your “constituent” isn’t a corporate entity, but the people who elected you.

    • dbtheonly says:

      Exactly. Who elected him? The corporations.

      • Eleanore Whitaker says:

        Trump has a huge Big Oil, Fracking and Coal Mining Wall Street investment portfolio. The reality is that if a single Senator votes down this pick, he’s gone. Trump will go bananas.

        • Sylviacroberts says:

          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours and have longer with friends & family! !mj497d:
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        • Dominick Vila says:

          The same is true for several other Trump nominations. He seems to have deliberately chosen people determined to either undermine or destroy the institutions they have been nominated to lead.

  3. J, Dial says:

    How in the cornbread heck is this trampling on his First Amendment rights? These are questions that he is ethically bound to answer.

  4. terrysb says:

    Pruitt is the worst person to be nominated for this post and I hope the Democrats hold his feet to the fire and reject him totally.

  5. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    This administration will prove to be the end of the United States as we know it. For one thing, the Republicans believe they are the ONLY voices that speak for “us.” They lie. Then, there is the matter of conflict of interest so engulfing this new administration that all other administrations combined NEVER had as many potentially dangerous conflicts of interest.

    The EPA choice is the absolute worst. What worries me is how these hick states will manage to FORCE Dem states to return to heating our homes with filthy coal, oil or gas. They won’t because they CAN’T. All states have to do who do not want to pay for hick state pollution is withdraw our state funding to the fed for any of the pollution or the side effects it will create that comes from these states.

    This guy once tried to abolish the EPA. Now he is heading it? Under what guise? A fox in the henhouse? And when the CDC begins reporting massive cases of deaths and lung illnesses or digestive poisoning, we sue the Republican states. Period. End of Statement.

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