Pruitt: Meeting organized by Hugh Hewitt before EPA decision led to 'good things'

Pruitt: Meeting organized by Hugh Hewitt before EPA decision led to 'good things'
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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE acknowledged Wednesday that a meeting organized by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt last fall helped with the EPA's decision to act on a polluted California site.

But Pruitt also told lawmakers that he didn't understand how the October meeting could be interpreted as nefarious, noting that the California site was already under consideration for placement on his personal priority list of Superfund sites.

"Good things came out of that meeting and that decision," Pruitt said while speaking Wednesday before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies.


"I'm not entirely sure why there would be criticism around us taking a concerted action to addressing Superfund sites and taking accountability, whoever brings that to our attention," Pruitt added.

Pruitt met with a law firm representing the Orange County Water District that employs Hewitt last October, according to internal emails obtained by Politico earlier this month.

Six weeks after the meeting, on Dec. 8, the Orange County North Basin contaminated site was placed on Pruitt's list of Superfund cleanup sites.

Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallSenate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Senate Dems want DOJ review of Giuliani's work for foreign entities MORE (N.M), the top Democrat on the Senate panel questioning Pruitt on Wednesday, told the EPA administrator that the connection "looks a little bit fishy."

"The idea has been that there has been scientific analysis and thorough analysis on a list and then special friends get to get on the list that has been created by the agency," he told Pruitt. "It looks a little bit fishy to me."

Hewitt, who also hosts a Saturday morning show on MSNBC, was scolded by the network earlier this month over his Pruitt advocacy. Hewitt's son, James, is also a political aide who works at the EPA press office.

CORRECTION: Hewitt helped set up the meeting with Pruitt but did not attend it. An earlier version contained incorrect information.