Democrats are asking EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to explain why he won’t recuse himself from President Donald Trump’s climate regulation rollback.
Lawmakers in Congress want to know why the former Oklahoma attorney general has not asked permission from the agency’s ethics office before signing off on Trump’s order nixing the Clean Power Plan (CPP). They believe Pruitt’s previous lawsuits against the rule required the Republican to recuse himself.
Their complaints come after the president signed a pair of executive orders earlier this month rolling back the CPP, which seeks to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas levels by nearly 30 percent over the next 10 years.
“We believe you are required to have secured authorization from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Designed Agency Ethics Officer (DAEO) to participate in these matters,” Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, among others, wrote in a letter to Pruitt.
“We seek your written confirmation that such authorization has been granted, or that you will recuse yourself from these matters going forward,” they added, referring to an agreement Trump’s EPA head made in January seeking authorization to participate in matters related to legal issues he has previously engaged in.
The group of lawmakers want to know if Pruitt has in any way recused himself from the merits of the CPP.
“If you have recused yourself from these matters, please provide the name(s) and identify the position(s) of the individual(s) you have directed to act in your stead,” they wrote.
Carper opposed Pruitt’s nomination in January and urged his Democratic colleagues to postpone voting on the former AG even after Congress subjected him to a grueling six hour-long confirmation hearing.
“While Committee Democrats acknowledge that Mr. Pruitt did submit responses to many questions, too many of his answers fail to provide requested documents, substance, and clarity needed about his potential conflicts of interests,” Carper wrote in a letter January to Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works.
He was referring to concerns that Pruitt’s lawsuits against the EPA might represent a conflict of interest if he was confirmed — Carper wants Pruitt to recuse himself from agency matters dealing with litigation he initiated as the Oklahoma AG.
Pruitt received, and answered, more than 1,000 questions after his hearing in January — Carper and his fellow Democrats believe his answers about conflicts of interest and his record as an AG are insufficient.
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