EPA head met with multiple energy execs in his first weeks

EPA head met with multiple energy execs in his first weeks
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The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) often met with executives of fossil fuel and energy companies in his first weeks in office.

The EPA released Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump adviser affirms intent to leave Paris deal | Officials report leaks at Superfund site after Harvey | Hurricane Maria now a major storm Overnight Regulation: Trump adviser affirms plans to leave climate deal | FDA to study new cigarette warning labels | DOJ investigating Equifax stock sales Officials report potential spills at Texas Superfund site after Harvey: report MORE’s first calendars under the Freedom of Information Act late Thursday, initially to E&E News.

In the time period covered — Feb. 21 to March 31 — Pruitt had meetings, phone calls and speeches with leaders in oil, natural gas, coal, the automotive industry, utilities, agriculture and others who would benefit from the Trump administration’s aggressive deregulatory agenda.

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The disclosures are likely to reinforce the argument from Democrats and environmentalists that Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, is a close ally of fossil fuel industries and committed to helping them by reducing regulatory protections, scaling back enforcement and more.

Pruitt’s meetings in those initial five weeks included executives from oil giant Chevron Corp., BHP Billiton, BP and coal producer Murray Energy.

He attended a March 22 meeting of the executive council of the American Petroleum Institute at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., with 45 oil and gas CEOs. The hotel is next to the EPA’s headquarters building, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke also attended.

Electric utilities were also the subject of numerous meetings. Pruitt spoke with leaders from Duke Energy Corp. and gave a speech to a meeting of the Edison Electric Institute.

He met multiple times with agricultural interests, including leaders from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Farm Bureau Federation, whose priorities include repealing the Waters of the United States rule meant to reduce water pollution.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman defended Pruitt’s schedule, saying it fits with the agency’s missions.

“Each meeting, phone call or discussion that the administrator has is focused on the Agency’s work to employ a positive environmental agenda,” she said in a statement.

“The administrator and his staff have discussions daily with our country’s businesses, as well as Democrat and Republican government leaders about how we can work together as a country to achieve clean air, land and water.”

The February and March calendar entries do not show any meetings with environmental or conservation organizations.

But Pruitt did meet with some green groups the next month. He attended an Earth Day event in Texas and met with the Nature Conservancy and the Audubon Society, the EPA announced in a statement that day.