Scott Pruitt’s Legal Conflicts of Interest Threaten the EPA

Trump’s Nominee To Lead Environmental Regulation Has a History of HostilityTo Environmental Law

Posted by Keshia Morris on February 10, 2017

Ethics thumbnail for issue buckets

Do President Trump and his Republican allies in the Senate really want to entrust the responsibility for protecting our environment to a man who has been in the forefront of legal efforts to block or overturn federal rules enforcing clean air and clean water laws?

Hard to believe, but it sure looks that way. As soon as next week, senators appear likely to confirm Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. If they do so, they’ll be installing as the nation’s top environmental regulator a lawyer involved in nine lawsuits challenging EPA air quality standards, clean water rules and pollution limits.

And those are just the current cases; Pruitt has initiated or filed at least 17 other suits against the EPA.

As EPA administrator, Pruitt will be empowered to defend or settle cases that he initiated and/or supported against the EPA in his role as Oklahoma’s Attorney General. While Pruitt has signed an ethics agreement with the EPA, it does not adequately address these lawsuits and in one year he can be involved in the cases as EPA Administrator.

Pruitt touts himself as “a national leader in the fight against . . . the EPA’s intrusion into property rights” on his personal campaign website. But all indications are that he believes “property rights” include the right to dump pollutants on the ground and into the water or pump them into the air.

Pruitt’s record has led organizations like the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group that includes experts on money in politics and ethics in government, to ask the EPA to demand that Pruitt revise his ethics agreement to address his conflicts of interest. Common Cause is in agreement and asks that the full Senate give his nomination the closest scrutiny.


Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Ethics

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