As you may recall:
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Friday won Senate confirmation to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal agency he repeatedly sued to rein in its reach during the Obama administration.
The vote was 52-46 as Republican leaders used their party’s narrow Senate majority to push Pruitt’s confirmation despite calls from Democrats to delay the vote until requested emails are released next week.
As part of a public records lawsuit, a state judge in Oklahoma on Thursday ordered Pruitt to release thousands of emails that he exchanged with oil and gas executives by Tuesday. Pruitt has refused to release the emails for more than two years.
Yesterday the emails came out, and they’re pretty much what you would expect.
The documents show that Pruitt, while Oklahoma attorney general, acted in close concert with oil and gas companies to challenge environmental regulations, even putting his letterhead to a complaint filed by one firm, Devon Energy. This practice was first revealed in 2014, but it now appears that it occurred more than once.
The emails also show that American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an oil and gas lobby group, provided Pruitt’s office with template language to oppose ozone limits and the renewable fuel standard program in 2013. AFPM encouraged Oklahoma to challenge the rules, noting: “This argument is more credible coming from a state.” Later that year, Pruitt did file opposition to both of these regulations.
It takes a special kind of craven to push through Pruitt’s nomination before their release. Here you have a Republican official who resisted compliance with public records laws, and the GOP rushes to secure for him his promotion before the American people have a chance to see what he was hiding. Of course, the whole reason someone like Pruitt is attractive to the modern GOP is his war against the environment on behalf of polluting industries. So the contents of the emails should be a feature, not a bug, right?
Such shenanigans reminds me of Pruitt’s attempts to dissemble on Bernie Sanders’ question about climate change—or, for that matter, Betsy DeVos’ refusal to directly answer questions about educational accountability. Such an unwillingness to take public ownership of their own positions tells you, I think, quite a good deal about modern Republicans.