Dem AGs ask Pruitt to recuse himself from climate rule repeal process
The Democratic attorneys general of 12 states say Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt needs to recuse himself from all matters related to the repeal of the Obama administration’s climate change rule for power plants.
The attorneys general, led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, say Pruitt’s criticisms of the Clean Power Plan and his attempt in his previous job as Oklahoma’s attorney general to fight it make him irreparably biased against it.
Becerra led his colleagues and the top law enforcement officials of five cities, one county and the District Of Columbia in submitting a formal request to the EPA outlining their objections.
“He has made a name for himself as someone who will do everything in his power to ax this important environmental policy, and he cannot credibly claim to have an open mind about it. His words speak for themselves,” Becerra said in a statement Tuesday.
“The Clean Power Plan would reduce coal and gas-fired power plant emissions by 16 percent by 2030, while avoiding 3,500 premature deaths per year. This is what Administrator Pruitt is against,” Becerra said. “He ought to do his job and protect our environment instead of catering to the fossil fuel industry.”
The 30-page comment argues the public’s “constitutional and statutory rights to due process and fairness in an administrative rulemaking proceeding are violated” when a decisionmaker like Pruitt acts in such a closed-minded and prejudicial way.
Pruitt made a name for himself nationally as Oklahoma’s attorney general in part by fighting the Clean Power Plan in court. He and other Republican attorneys general succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to put it on hold, but no federal court has ruled on its legal merits.
Pruitt proposed last year to repeal the rule, arguing that the Obama EPA exceeded its legal authority.
“The Obama administration pushed the bounds of their authority so far with the [Clean Power Plan] that the Supreme Court issued a historic stay of the rule, preventing its devastating effects to be imposed on the American people while the rule is being challenged in court,” Pruitt said in October. “We are committed to righting the wrongs of the Obama administration by cleaning the regulatory slate.”
The action aligned with President Trump’s campaign promises and the wishes of nearly all Republican lawmakers, conservative states and big businesses.
But the Democratic attorneys general say Pruitt shouldn’t be involved.
“Administrator Pruitt has a closed mind on the questions of whether the [Clean Power Plan] should be repealed, whether the [Clean Power Plan] is unlawful, and whether Clean Air Act … guidelines must be based only on controls imposed directly at the regulated sources,” they said.
The Tuesday filing may be a preview of a legal argument the attorneys general plan to use when they inevitably sue the EPA for repealing the rule.