Documents show EPA secrecy push under Pruitt

Documents show EPA secrecy push under Pruitt
© Greg Nash

New internal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents are shedding light on the agency’s attempts to keep Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule Scientists join Democrats in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule Overnight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies MORE's activities secret, especially before they take place.

The documents, first reported on Monday by The New York Times and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the Sierra Club, additionally show that EPA staff often frame potential reporters or attendees at events as either “friendly” or “unfriendly.”

In one example, in planning an Iowa event on Pruitt’s work to roll back an Obama administration water pollution rule, a cattle farmer helping to organize the event told the EPA that he was planning it as a “town hall meeting,” which would allow attendees to ask questions.

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“With a crowd of 300 people plus open press, we have to stick with the questions we currently have,” Pruitt’s scheduling director, Millan Hupp, replied, the documents show.

“My sincere apologies for causing any difficulty but we cannot do open q&a from the crowd.”

In one internal memo, EPA staff said that 16 “friendly Industry leaders” would attend a National Association of Homebuilders event in Colorado, which was closed to the public and not announced in advance. The event’s audience was described as “all industry friendly.”

In another instance, when a Missouri television network tweeted in advance of an event Pruitt was planning, a top Pruitt staffer tried to determine if it meant that “unfriendly” media would try to cover the event.