New EPA head Scott Pruitt's emails indicate close ties to oil and gas producers

The 7,000 emails released today show intimate coordination with lobbyists.

Pruitt was narrowly confirmed by the U.S. Senate (52-46) to be the EPA's administrator Friday after a contentious confirmation process while facing protests from Democrats and environmental groups not only because of his ties to energy companies, but because as Oklahoma’s attorney general he sued the EPA 14 times.

“Please find attached a short white paper with some talking points that you might find useful to cut and paste when encouraging States to file comments on the SSM rule,” wrote a lobbyist at Hunton & Williams, a law firm that represents major utility companies. The SSM rule relates to industrial emissions.

Democrats attempted to hold off on Pruitt’s confirmation until these emails were released, but they were unsuccessful.

The emails also show how Pruitt’s office appeared to work with these companies to draft these letters for Pruitt to sign to try and prevent new regulations.

“Any suggestions?” a deputy solicitor general in Pruitt’s office wrote in May 2013 to an executive at Devon Energy, an oil and gas production company. The email to the executive, Bill Whitsitt, included a draft Pruitt’s office appeared to be planning to send to the EPA regarding proposed emissions regulations.

Whitsitt replied with what looks like proposed changes: “Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none.”

The deputy solicitor general replied the next day telling Whitsitt he had sent the letter, writing “Thanks for all your help on this.”

In another email in January 2013, Pruitt’s chief of staff at the time gushed to Whitsitt: “You are so amazingly helpful!!! Thank you so much!!!”

Lincoln Ferguson, the press secretary for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office released a statement writing that their office has "complied with a Court’s order regarding a January 2015 Open Records Act request.”

"In fact, the Office went above and beyond what is required under the Open Records Act and produced thousands of additional documents that, but for the Court’s order, would typically be considered records outside the scope of the Act,” Ferguson said. "This broad disclosure should provide affirmation that, despite politically motivated allegations, the Office of Attorney General remains fully committed to the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act.”

Americans for Prosperity declined comment.

“The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry,” Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy, wrote in an email Wednesday.

Hunton & Williams did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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