Toyota says it won't partner with EPA despite Pruitt claim

Toyota says it won't partner with EPA despite Pruitt claim
© Greg Nash
Christopher Reynolds, Executive Vice President of Corporate Resources at Toyota, wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to the Environmental Working Group that "at this point there are no definitive plans to move forward with a project" with the EPA.
Reynolds went on to call the discussions Toyota was having with EPA "preliminary." 
Reynolds was responding to a letter the Environmental Working Group sent him in December questioning Toyota's decision to work with EPA under their Toyota Production System Support program. 
News of the potential partnership came to light while Pruitt was testifying at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Dec. 8.
Speaking to the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on the Environment, Pruitt said, "We are actually partnering with Toyota to begin a lean process at the agency to evaluate management practices."
Pruitt made the comment in response to Rep. John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusAsbestos ban stalls in Congress amid partisan fight Women rise on K Street — slowly Bottom line MORE (R-Ill.), who asked him about the agency's workload practices.
“We continue to have collaborations with Toyota to better improve agency outcomes," an EPA spokesperson told The Hill.
At the time Toyota acknowledged to HuffPost that it was speaking with the EPA about how it could help them incorporate their style of operations efficiency. 
However, Karen Nielsen, a Toyota spokeswoman, downplayed the extent to which discussions between the company and the EPA had taken place, telling HuffPost Wednesday, “We were always just in talks anyway, so it was not a done deal. We were just looking into working with them, but that was never a promised thing.”
EPA officials and environmentalists had called the potential partnership a conflict of interest, as the EPA oversees regulation of companies including Toyota.
Updated at 4:13 p.m.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified EWG President Ken Cook as the president of Toyota.