Energy & Environment

Pruitt’s thank-you notes go largely to industry

Greg Nash

About half of the 40 letters and notes sent by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt have gone to the heads of prominent industry groups, according to documents released under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Sierra Club.

Ten of the letters were sent to fossil fuel industry heads — including notes addressed to BP, Chevron Corp., the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the American Gas Association.

{mosads}Other industry heads who received notes from Pruitt include leaders of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Association of Wheat Growers and Waste Management.

The released documents cover the period between Feb. 20, 2017 — Pruitt’s first day in office — and April 10, 2017. The Sierra Club’s request is for the EPA to release documents through all of 2017.

Only one Pruitt email was released, suggesting the EPA administrator is not a frequent user of his official email account.

The Sierra Club, which filed a lawsuit to compel the EPA to release information under the FOIA request after it initially missed deadlines, is asking a court to make the EPA certify that Pruitt didn’t send any other emails during the 10-month period of the group’s request.

Many of the notes to industry representatives were thank-you notes sent to individuals Pruitt indicated he had met with previously either at EPA headquarters or at events where he spoke.

In a typed April 5 letter to Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources — an independent oil producer based in Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma — Pruitt wrote, “Truly, visiting with you and our friends with DEPA blessed and encouraged me. I enjoyed the fellowship very much.”

Hamm, a longtime ally of Pruitt’s, previously introduced the EPA head before a speaking engagement at the Domestic Energy Production Association.

“We have much work to do but we have started and are on the way to better things,” Pruitt wrote, handwriting off to the side, “Appreciate you.”

In another note, Pruitt thanked Khary Cauthen, senior director of federal relations at the API, for organizing an event at the oil and gas giant’s offices — calling it a “blessing.”

“I very much enjoyed meeting with you and the board of directors. It was a blessing to me to have the opportunity to speak to the group. I hope to see you again in the future,” Pruitt typed in the note.

A handwritten aside added: “Thank you for the invite!”

Eleven of Pruitt’s letters went to other government representatives, including Canada’s natural resources minister, the premier of Saskatchewan and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R).

One of the more notable letters was a March 27 thank-you note to Jerry Colangelo, an executive with the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team. Pruitt thanked Colangelo for a dinner they had together in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“A belated but grateful thanks to you for making the trip to Scottsdale so rewarding,” Pruitt wrote. “I enjoyed our interaction very much. I look forward to working alongside you as we partner together to grow our economy while also protecting our environment.”

According to his official schedule, Pruitt was in town speaking to a National Association of Manufacturers event.

Another note addressed to a man named Alfredo Castro indicted that Pruitt additionally toured a ballpark while on his trip to Scottsdale.

“A belated but grateful thanks for setting up the tour of the park. Ryan and l enjoyed it very much and found it interesting,” Pruitt wrote, referring to his chief of staff, Ryan Jackson.

Pruitt previously owned a minor league baseball team in Oklahoma.

The single email sent by Pruitt was to a consultant with the Capitol Hill Consulting Group, who had invited Pruitt to an event hosted by the American Council for Capital Formation — a conservative pro-business group.

EPA staffers have long maintained that Pruitt is old fashioned and cautious when it comes to his communications, preferring to have most interactions in person or relying on his aides to set up his meetings.

Last year the administrator additionally requested a soundproof booth for his office so that he could speak on the phone without fear of being listened in on. The booth reportedly cost taxpayers $43,000 to be completed.

Tags Scott Pruitt

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