NYT Took Its Time Informing Readers Of Key Info About Obama EPA Chief’s Schedule

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is mirroring his Obama-era predecessor by setting up meetings with groups that largely share his policy goals.

But you wouldn’t know that until the 20th paragraph.

NYT spends the first 19 paragraphs laying out Pruitt’s meetings with industry and conservative groups pushing for environmental regulations to be scaled back.

NYT reporters Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman obtained detailed records of Pruitt’s schedule, which show he “held back-to-back meetings, briefing sessions and speaking engagements almost daily with top corporate executives and lobbyists from all the major economic sectors that he regulates — and almost no meetings with environmental groups or consumer or public health advocates.”

The story suggests what Pruitt is doing is unusual, but admits near the end that former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s schedule “also demonstrated a partisan bent.”

“Ms. McCarthy held a disproportionate number of meetings with Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups, particularly in the summer of 2014, when the administration was making the case for sweeping climate-change regulations,” NYT reported.

NYT does qualify this, however, by noting “McCarthy apparently spent much more time meeting with E.P.A. professional staff and other federal government officials than Mr. Pruitt, discussing agency programs and policies.”

“She also met with industry players, like the American Gas Association, the National Pork Producers Council and Edison Electric Institute, the utility lobby,” NYT reported.

EPA officials told NYT Pruitt had also met with numerous environmental and consumer groups and Democrats as well, including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Hawaii Gov. David Ige, both Democrats.

Pruitt also met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, in February. Dayton told reporters the meeting was “productive and cordial.”

An EPA official provided an emailed list of activist groups and Democratic officials Pruitt has met with since taking office in February.

The Nature Conservancy. Audubon Society. American Lung Association. American Public Health Association. American Academy of Pediatrics. March of Dimes. Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments. Physicians for Social Responsibility. Trust for America’s Health. National Medical Association. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. National Environmental Health Association. NYU School of Medicine. National Association of Environmental Medicine. National Association of County and City Health Officials. Health Care Without Harm. Healthy Air Campaign. American Lung Association. Indiana NAACP. East Chicago Community Action Group. Twin City Ministerial Alliance. First Baptist Church East Chicago. Interfaith Federation. Association of Clean Water Administrators. Texas Health and Environment Coalition. Galveston Bay Foundation. Environmental Council of the States. Western Governors Association, including Democratic Governors Steve Bullock (Mont.), Kate Brown (Ore.), David Ige (Hawaii), and John Hickenlooper (Colo.).

Pruitt came under fire recently for frequently flying between Washington, D.C., and his home state of Oklahoma at taxpayer expense. EPA said these flights were to attend meetings, but NYT reported “the journeys included only a bit of official business.”

The EPA inspector general is looking into Pruitt’s travel schedule. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price recently resigned for billing taxpayers $400,000 for private jet flights.

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