Energy

Dem Lawmakers Ask Trump’s EPA Pick To Disclose Ties To Koch Brothers

Senate Democrats want President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to disclose his relationship to the fossil fuel industry and to a fund tied to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Six Democrats on the Senate’s environmental panel sent a letter Wednesday to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asking him to list his connections to the Kochs, and various energy companies. They believe the list will help lawmakers determine whether the Republican’s ties will conflict with his EPA responsibilities.

“What that conduct says about your ability to lead EPA in a manner that is not beholden to special or secret interests is a subject that we expect will receive a full airing during your confirmation hearing,” the senators wrote in the letter.

The group claimed Pruitt’s involvement with the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a group they believe supports the interests of the Koch brothers, could lead to a wage of conflict of interests. The Kochs are ardent opponents of some of the EPA’s most strident regulations.

Republican analysts, meanwhile, believe the letter is a shakedown, and an effort by green energy advocates to extract some flesh from a Trump nominee.

“This is a partisan fishing expedition by six liberal Democrats who combined have taken more than $1.2 million from far-left environmentalist groups dead-set against any reforms to an out of control EPA,” Jeremy Adler, communications director for American Rising Squared, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The group, which is led by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, has taken more than $1 million collectively from environmentalist groups such as NextGen Climate Action, League of Conservation Voters, The Sierra Club, National Resources Defense Council, among others.

Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts, for his part, has raked in nearly a half-a-million dollars in donations from various green groups, according to Opensecrets.org. Whitehouse and Sanders have pulled in $180,000 and $246,626, respectively, from various green groups.

Whitehouse and Markey, for their part, also signed their names to a report written by an attorney from environmentalist group EarthJustice alleging that EPA’s critics are in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry.

Still, the letter suggested that the confirmation hearing was the Oklahoma attorney general’s chance to come clean about his connections before Democrats lay into him.

They told Pruitt that “the confirmation process” is his opportunity to dispel the idea that he has spent his time as Oklahoma’s attorney general toting water for the fossil fuel industry.

Pruitt has not responded to reporters’ request for comments.

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