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Former EPA Chief Dismisses Concerns About Scott Pruitt’s Emails

File Photo: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2017.File Photo: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies before a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2017.

A former EPA chief during the Bush administration dismissed criticisms directed at former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s supposed deep ties to energy companies

President Donald Trump’s EPA chief didn’t do anything wrong when he corresponded through email with various energy companies, former New Jersey GOP Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said Thursday during an interview on MSNBC. She was referring to thousands of emails indicating Pruitt had a long-standing relationship with the energy industry in Oklahoma.

“Well, frankly, he came from an oil and gas state and you would expect that kind of an interchange between he and the constituents in that state and he was an elected representative of those constituents,” she said. “So that in-it-of itself isn’t unusual.”

Todd Whitman, who lead the agency from 2001 to 2003, considers herself an opponent of both Pruitt and Trump. She accused Trump in early January of potentially torpedoing climate policies and has on more than one occasion suggested the Oklahoma Republican would hollow out the EPA.

The agency’s former chief came to Pruitt’s aid despite her opposition – she said the new EPA administer had an obligation to listen to and maintain communication with energy groups in his state.

“I mean, the regulations that EPA promulgates impact them and they know more about their business than anyone else, so they have a right to have a seat at the table,” Todd Whitman, a Republican who supported former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, said about the EPA’s outsized effect on industry.

Todd Whitman, who founded a lobby firm called Whitman Strategy Group shortly after leaving the agency, was expressing her opinion about a series of emails released by liberal watchdog group, Center for Media and Democracy. The emails indicate Pruitt’s AG office communicated on several occasions with energy groups like Devon Energy earlier in February.

CMD, a group that has received funding from billionaire financier George Soros, sued to have the emails released after it claimed the Oklahoma Republican stonewalled information requests for two years.

The emails indicate Devon’s executives thanked Pruitt several times for supposedly spearheading a campaign to reduce regulations hurting the company.

Devon’s director of public policy, Brent Rockwood, wrote in 2013 e-mail to Oklahoma AG’s office that the company’s legal team had taken “another review” of a letter Pruitt wrote about Bureau of Land Management regulations and suggested including footnotes to source the quotes and legal arguments.

“Thanks for putting the AG letter into action, and I think that this letter will make a strong statement and a real difference,” Devon’s Rockwood said in the e-mail to Pruitt’s office. “Do you think that we will get any Democrats to sign the letter? Also, when you finalize the document and send it out, can I please get a copy for my records?”

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Chris White
the authorChris White
Energy Reporter

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