Emails indicate Pruitt tried to recruit oil execs for EPA jobs

Emails indicate Pruitt tried to recruit oil execs for EPA jobs
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Court rejects new effort to stop kids' climate lawsuit | Baltimore is latest city to sue over climate change | EPA staffers worried about toxic chemical in Pruitt's desk Pruitt staffers worried about toxic chemical in his desk Andrew Wheeler must reverse damage to American heartland MORE tried to recruit top executives from oil and gas trading groups to jobs within the agency, according to emails obtained through an Freedom of Information Act request.

The emails, by the Sierra Club, show that oil company ConocoPhillips reached out to the EPA after Pruitt met with the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) board of directors.

Kevin Avery, a manager of federal government affairs at ConocoPhillips wrote to then-EPA aide Samantha Travis on March 27, 2017, describing Pruitt’s recruitment “plea.”

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“I understand that Administrator Pruitt met with the API executives last week and he made a plea for candidates to fill some of the regional director positions within the agency,” Avery wrote in an email. “One of our employees has expressed interest. He is polishing up his resume. Where does he need to send it?”

A few days later, on April 4, Avery emailed Travis again with the resume of a company employee as well as a friend of one of the executives. 

The resumes were reportedly never sent to the EPA. 

“We are not aware of that ‘recruiting plea’ but EPA has sought a diverse range of individuals to serve in the Agency and help advance President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE’s agenda of environmental stewardship and regulatory certainty,” an EPA spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. 

However, Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club, blasted Pruitt's attempt to outsource the position. 

“This is Scott Pruitt trying to outsource his job to protect our air and water to the exact people responsible for polluting them. Pruitt's corrupt tenure at EPA has been a dereliction of the duties he swore to uphold. He's gotten sweetheart deals from corporate lobbyists and then turned around and pushed their agenda, all while trying to enrich himself at the expense of taxpayers,” Brune said in a statement.

Dozens of CEOs from the oil industry were in attendance for the March 23 dinner at the Trump International Hotel.

Avery offered up the resumes of Brad Thomas and Kim Estes shortly after the dinner, according to Buzzfeed News.

Avery praised Thomas in the email as someone who is “very knowledge on a host of EPA regulations and policies” in Alaska, where he worked for ConocoPhillips.

“The other candidate is recommended by our Vice President for State and Federal Government Affairs, John Dabbar,” Avery wrote in the email. “He is a personal friend of Mr. Estes’ and would be willing to give you any additional information you might need.”

Estes’s consulting company, the Estes Group LLC, works on environmental health and safety issues and emergency response in California.

Estes confirmed to the outlet that he his name had been submitted as a candidate to possible lead the EPA’s Region 9 office in San Francisco.

Dabbar did tell him about the position but Estes said he never submitted a formal application or have an in-person interview.

—Updated at 4:30 p.m.