Sen. Tom Carper requested information from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt about the agency's enforcement record.
The inquiry comes amid concerning reports that a major oil and gas producer backtracked on its willingness to address air pollution violations days after Pruitt was sworn in as administrator.
On May 20, the New York Times reported that oil and gas producer Devon Energy, the target of an ongoing EPA enforcement action, reversed its willingness to address air pollution violations less than a week after Pruitt’s arrival as EPA administrator. As attorney general of the state of Oklahoma, Pruitt maintained a close and questionable relationship with Devon Energy. In 2011, Pruitt went so far as to send a nearly identical version of a letter drafted by Devon Energy on federal methane regulations to then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on his office’s letterhead.
In the letter, Carper reminded Pruitt that, during his confirmation hearing, he stated, “Clearly, the mission of the EPA, as I indicated in my opening statement, to protect our natural resources, protecting our water quality, improving our air, helping protect the health and welfare of our citizens, is key to the leadership of the EPA, and, where enforcement is necessary, vigorous enforcement.”
These reports also come just days before the release of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal, which is expected to cut EPA’s enforcement resources.
Carper went on to note to Pruitt that “allowing Devon Energy to back out of both a remedy to ‘improve our air’ and no longer be subject to ‘vigorous enforcement’ for violations of the Clean Air Act would seem inconsistent with the statements you made to the Environment and Public Works Committee — as would the 24 percent proposed cut to the 2018 OECA budget that is expected to be submitted to Congress next week.”
Carper requested that Pruitt provide relevant documents and answers to specific questions by June 23 in order to understand whether his commitment to Congress regarding enforcement actions prior to his confirmation is consistent with actions taken since assuming his new position.
The text of the letter can be found at bit.ly/2rRf4SY.