WASHINGTON, May 29, 2018 — Following inconsistent and contradictory testimony from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt at two congressional hearings, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a motion Friday with a federal judge seeking to depose Pruitt on how his office creates and maintains official records to comply with transparency and open-records laws.
The Center’s motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is part of ongoing Center lawsuit against the EPA. In 2017 the Center filed Freedom of Information Act requests for Pruitt’s emails. The EPA refused to hand over records for months, until after the Center sued. Although the agency then released emails sent to Administrator Pruitt, it did not disclose any emails sent by him.
“Unless Pruitt’s hauled before a judge, it’s pretty obvious he’ll just keep lying,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Even Congress can’t get a straight answer out of him. Putting Pruitt on the witness stand could finally reveal how he’s colluding with polluters to sabotage protections for our air and water.”
Recent reports have revealed that Pruitt potentially has four official EPA email accounts. The Center’s motion to depose him seeks to learn whether he is properly preserving emails as required under federal law and whether the agency is properly searching all of his accounts in response to public-records requests.
Although EPA’s Office of Inspector General has plans to probe Pruitt’s use of multiple email accounts at the agency, the OIG has “numerous other pending matters” and cannot say when review of Pruitt’s email accounts would begin.
Prior to being confirmed as EPA administrator, Pruitt drew national attention for his time as the Oklahoma attorney general and his use of personal email to conduct official state business, about which he was not forthright in his congressional confirmation hearings and other testimony to Congress. The Center filed a bar association complaint challenging Pruitt’s repeated misrepresentations to Congress.
“Pruitt’s penchant for secrecy violates the federal laws he has sworn to uphold,” said Hartl. “The man now leading the EPA may feel most comfortable in the dark cozying up to special-interest polluters, but it’s time for his dirty dealings to be made public.”