Pruitt Has Met Only 5 Times With Environmental Groups
As Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt tries to systematically dismantle regulations that protect the environment, is it any surprise that he has hardly ever met with any groups that would oppose those actions?
Both CNN and the New York Times have tracked the EPA boss' dismal meeting record with environmental and scientific organizations since taking the position. Rather, his calendar has been filled with meetings with fossil fuel industry representatives.
According to CNN:
Of all of the meetings Pruitt has held in person or on the phone, the majority have been with fossil fuel industry stakeholders. He's held more than 100 meetings with industry representatives, about 25% of meetings overall, according to a recently public copy of his schedule from April to early September. In comparison, he's held five meetings with environmentalist or science groups, which is less than 1%.
Breaking down Pruitt's meetings with each sector, energy groups are at the top of the list. He's met with representatives of oil, gas, electric, biofuel and other such companies almost 35 times. The next most penciled-in groups is farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists. A large part of the EPA's job is regulating chemicals and fertilizers.
An EPA spokesperson defended Pruitt's meetings.
"As E.P.A. has been the poster child for regulatory overreach, the agency is now meeting with those ignored by the Obama administration," the agency spokesperson wrote via email to the Times.
Former President Obama's EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy met regularly with environmentalists but also made time for industry representatives, the Times reported.
Pruitt has long been criticized for his close ties to the fossil fuel industry. The former Oklahoma Attorney General has made a career of waging numerous legal wars against the EPA and President Obama's environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan.
His frequent travels back to his home state have also been scrutinized.
"These travel records show that administrator Pruitt is more focused on cultivating his relationships with industry and conservative political organizations in his home state of Oklahoma than he is on protecting the environment and the public health for the rest of America," said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and former Director of Civil Enforcement at EPA.
The EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) said earlier this month that Pruitt's taxpayer-funded travel through Sept. 30 is under investigation.