Scott Pruitt is no stranger to the Energy community. He’s been an outspoken critic of environmental regulation, having built his career upon lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Surprisingly, in February of 2017, President Trump appointed Pruitt to become the 14th administrator of the EPA.
But Pruitt’s relatively short one-year tenure as the head of the EPA was ridden with scandal. In fact, Pruitt has been the subject of some 13 federal investigations during his time at the EPA. He implemented unauthorized raises for aides. He had core involvement in spending abuses at the EPA itself. He was a part of many other misconducts in office. All in all, Pruitt’s track record was far from clean.
Scandals: Mixing Personal With Professional Life
According to reports from the New York Times, Pruitt involved three EPA officials to help his daughter secure an internship at the White House. Additionally, Pruitt would leverage his power and influence to contact the likes of the CEO of Chick-Fil-A, hoping to have the executive help his wife start a franchise of her own.
As Pruitt continued to get closer to Trump, eventually asking him to fire Jeff Sessions and instead have him lead the Department of Justice, Pruitt’s conflict of interest began to show itself more and more.
Pruitt’s Views On Climate Change
In 2017, even while being the head of the EPA, Pruitt questioned the validity of climate science. Specifically, Pruitt told CNBC that he doesn’t believe that carbon dioxide emissions are the primary contributor to climate change, despite this being the consensus among climate scientists.
It comes as no surprise that Pruitt believes in environmental deregulation, and with this belief, was one of the strongest driving forces that influenced President Trump to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement, according to the New York Times.
Pruitt’s Key Policy Decisions
- Withdrawing From The Paris Climate Agreement: Pruitt, along with Steve Bannon, convinced Trump to pull the United States out of the Paris agreement, despite former Vice-President Al Gore trying to convince Trump otherwise.
- Opposing the Clean Power Plan: Pruitt strongly opposed the Clean Power Plan, a plan that sought to limit carbon emissions. Again, this comes as no surprise as Pruitt didn’t believe carbon emissions were center to the climate change issue.
- Lowering Fuel Emission Standards: The Obama administration set fuel emission standards for passenger cars and other vehicles. Pruitt deemed these standards too unrealistic. He, therefore, opposed them.
- Decreasing Funding To The EPA: Pruitt believed in deregulating the environment. The EPA’s budget was decreased by 30% in 2017.
All in all, it’s clear where Pruitt’s beliefs lie when it comes to environmental regulation and climate change.
Pruitt’s Interactions With Lobbyists
Pruitt had several notable scandals linked to lobbyists. In 2017, Pruitt leased a bedroom linked to a Canadian energy company’s lobbying firm. And with respect to foreign travel, had a Morocco trip organized by another lobbying firm.
There was a pattern of Pruitt interacting with lobbyists in questionable ways without disclosing their relationship. It’s no surprise that these lobbyists are oil and gas companies, who would benefit from Pruitt’s legislative views.
The extent to which lobbyists impacted Pruitt’s policy decisions is unclear.
Becoming A Lobbyist
Lobbying disclosure forms show that Pruitt has registered as an energy lobbyist in Indiana. Investigative reporter Michael Biesecker found that Pruitt seems to be getting involved in lobbying in the coal industry.
As Pruitt refers to himself as a self-employed consultant, it seems that his only client is RailPoint Solutions LLC. The manager of the Delaware corporation, Heather Tryon, also seems to be the Chief Financial Officer of Sunrise Coal.
Pruitt’s new career as a lobbyist comes as no surprise. While Pruitt was the head of the EPA, he was a supporter of fossil fuels and didn’t emphasize the severity of the climate change problem as it relates to the increased usage of fossil fuels.
At the moment, nobody can be sure what exactly Pruitt’s working on. Lobbying disclosure forms are generally vague. As Pruitt continues to work in Indiana, we’ll be sure to continue covering what he’s up to.
Steven is an Editor for the Politics section at The Rising and a Computer Science student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.