Democratic Senators Question Timing of EPA Action Following Industry Meeting Whitehouse, Schatz, Carper, and Markey ask Pruitt to explain appearance with oil and gas-funded group days before withdrawal of methane information request from oil and gas companies
PoliticalNews.me - Apr 19,2017 - Senators Question Timing of EPA Action Following Industry Meeting
Whitehouse, Schatz, Carper, and Markey ask Pruitt to explain appearance with oil and gas-funded group days before withdrawal of methane information request from oil and gas companies
Washington, D.C. – Senators are calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt to reveal what he discussed with members of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA)—an oil and gas industry-funded group that Pruitt once led—just days before Pruitt unilaterally withdrew an EPA information request that oil and gas companies have called burdensome. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Edward Markey (D-MA) wrote to Pruitt today requesting details of his participation in the February 26-27 RAGA meeting in Washington, DC, and asking whether he upheld his commitment to “examine the submitted data” before acting on the Information Collection Request (ICR) for oil and gas facilities.
The Senators also ask if Pruitt signed a waiver of federal ethics rules, which may bar him from participating in decisions connected to the ICR because he took part in related litigation before becoming Administrator, and if Pruitt will factor the concerns of non-RAGA member attorneys general into future methane regulation.
Below is the full text of the letter. A PDF copy is available here.
In their letter, the Senators include a timeline of the lead-up to the ICR withdrawal: “During your confirmation process, on January 18, 2017, you stated in response to Senator Whitehouse, that with respect to the ICR you would ‘examine the submitted data to determine the appropriate next steps.’ On February 17, you were confirmed. On February 26-27, RAGA met in Washington, DC. We have been told by an individual who attended that meeting that you spoke at that meeting. On March 1, you received a letter from nine Republican Attorneys General, all of whom are members of RAGA, and two Republican Governors asking you to withdraw the ICR for oil and gas facilities. On March 2, citing nothing other than this letter, EPA withdrew the ICR.”
The ICR would have required oil and gas companies to collect information on the equipment and controls the industry could use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane. The EPA has previously explained that the ICR is critical to understanding how best to address greenhouse gas emissions caused by oil and gas extraction. Industry and state officials, like the nine members of RAGA who wrote to Pruitt on March 2, have argued that it was overly burdensome.
“It is difficult for us to believe that in the two weeks between your confirmation and your withdrawal of the ICR,” the Senators continue, “you followed through with the promise you made on January 18, and examined ‘the submitted data to determine the appropriate next steps’ on the ICR. Instead, the timing noted above suggests that the ‘submitted data’ you reviewed as EPA Administrator may have consisted entirely of the letter from Republican officials claiming the ICR was ‘an unnecessary and onerous burden on oil