If Confirmed As EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt Must Recuse Himself from Lawsuits he Brought Against the EPA
Pruitt Can’t Play Both Sides of a Case
WASHINGTON– Today, the Campaign Legal Center called on Scott Pruitt, President-elect Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to recuse himself from the multiple lawsuits he brought against the agency as Attorney General of Oklahoma. Pruitt’s current ethics agreement is insufficient to avoid actual or apparent conflicts of interest, CLC explains in a letter to EPA’s Ethics Office and the Office of Government Ethics.
“Pruitt made a name for himself by suing the same agency he now seeks to lead, and if confirmed, he will be in a position of defending against—or settling—the same cases he previously initiated and supported,” said Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. “Pruitt can’t be an impartial administrator when it comes to the lawsuits he spearheaded and as EPA Administrator he must step aside from those suits to protect the integrity of the agency’s decisionmaking.”
On Pruitt’s campaign website, he boasts of his role in leading and coordinating litigation against the EPA. According to some estimates, he initiated or filed briefs in at least 26 suits against the EPA, nine of which are ongoing. The cases affect a wide range of issues including air quality standards, clean water and pollution limits.
In his ethics agreement, Pruitt argues he only has an obligation to recuse from these cases for one year, and will even seek waivers to participate before that period expires. CLC’s letter explains that the circumstances here require recusal for the duration of the litigation, and regardless of whether Oklahoma withdraws from a suit or waives any conflict.
Pruitt’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works began at 10am today.