EPA to conduct 'full review' of information requests for Pruitt records

EPA to conduct 'full review' of information requests for Pruitt records
© Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Thursday that it would conduct a "full review" of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA halts surprise inspections of power, chemical plants | Regulators decline to ban pesticide linked to brain damage | NY awards country's largest offshore wind energy contracts EPA allows continued use of pesticide linked with brain damage Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade MORE's multiple email accounts, after concerns from a Republican senator that some requested information was not being made available to the public.  

“In response to your concern, my office is conducting a full review of the searches conducted regarding FOIA requests seeking Administrator Pruitt’s records,” EPA Deputy Chief Information Officer Steven Fine wrote in a letter to Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Wyo.) on Thursday.

In his letter, the EPA official said that Pruitt had a traditional email with his first and last name, and had additionally used a “day to day” email with the address sooners7@epa.gov. One other email, esp7@epa.gov, was set up for Pruitt but never used. Without offering a reason, Fine told Barrasso that Pruitt’s day-to-day address “must now be changed.”

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Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, wrote to Pruitt last Friday following reports that the EPA chief used multiple email addresses to conduct agency business. Barrasso’s letter expressed concerns that all emails were not searchable under the Freedom of Information Act and asked for confirmation that they were.

“During your confirmation hearing I specifically asked you to ‘refrain from taking any ... action that makes it difficult or impossible for the public to access your written communications under the Freedom of Information Act,’ ” Barrasso wrote the administrator.

He added: “You agreed to my request. Can you affirm that EPA does in fact search all your email accounts when responding to FOIA requests?”

In his response to Barrasso, Fine noted that previous EPA administrators have also used multiple email addresses to conduct business, saying the practice stems back to Carol Browner’s tenure from 1993 to 2001.

In a statement Friday, Barrasso said he looked forward to EPA’s full review of his questions.

“EPA has reiterated Administrator Pruitt’s commitment to me that all of his email accounts are searched for Freedom of Information Act requests,” Barrasso said. “I look forward to receiving the findings of the agency’s full review that’s being conducted in response to my letter.”