For Immediate Release, May 3, 2017
Contact: Meg Townsend, (971) 717-6409, ');
Lawsuit Aims to Force Release of EPA Chief's Emails, Schedule
Refusal to Release Public Documents Suggests Scott Pruitt Hiding Meetings With Oil Companies, Other Polluting Industries
WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity filed suit today to force the Environmental Protection Agency to turn over the emails and schedule of the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt.
Today’s suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., comes after the EPA illegally refused to comply with a February request from the Center for these public documents. The Center filed its Freedom of Information Act Request out of concern over Pruitt’s close ties to oil companies and other polluting industries.
“Americans need to know if Pruitt is still playing patty-cake with the big polluters the EPA’s supposed to protect us from,” said Meg Townsend, the Center’s open government attorney. “The agency’s refusal to release these public documents suggests Pruitt is back to cozying up to oil companies and pesticide makers, at the expense of the air we breathe and the water we drink.”
Pruitt has a history of refusing to comply with public-records requests. For over two years, he stonewalled efforts by nonprofit organizations, the people of Oklahoma and the U.S. Senate to access thousands of pages of documents from his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general. An Oklahoma judge finally forced Pruitt to provide those records, which showed his close ties to the fossil fuel industry and far-right organizations.
“The EPA’s stonewalling is shady politics at its worst,” said Townsend. “By refusing to let the public see Pruitt’s emails and schedules, the agency undermines the transparency and accountability of the federal government. The American people have a right to know how much power special interests like the petroleum industry have over the man making crucial decisions about our health and environment.”
The Oklahoma Bar Association recently opened an investigation into whether Pruitt lied to Congress under oath about his emails. That investigation, begun in response to a complaint from the Center and University of Oklahoma law professor Kristen van de Biezenbos, is examining possible ethical violations stemming from Pruitt’s misrepresentation of his use of a personal email address — while he was Oklahoma attorney general — for official business and speeches he gave to right-wing organizations against environmental protection.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.