Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the Senate Environment Committee in January 2018. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

By Dino Grandoni
7 February 2018

(The Washington Post) – A group of Democratic senators is demanding that Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt recuse himself from  repealing one of President Obama's signature environmental rules, which is intended to curb the release of greenhouse gases from the nation’s power plants.

Late Tuesday, the four senators — Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Brian Schatz of Hawaii — submitted a comment to the EPA on repealing the Clean Power Plan, arguing Pruitt “must recuse himself from overseeing any and all rulemaking with respect to the Clean Power Plan.”

Pruitt sued the EPA a total of 14 times as attorney general of Oklahoma. Four of those suits concerned the CPP.

The senators argue Pruitt’s participation in the repeal process would violate federal regulations “governing impartiality in performing official duties” since Pruitt is “inalterably” narrow-minded with regard to the CPP in particular and climate change in general. The language echoes that of similar requests for recusal submitted by four environmental organizations as well as by a coalition of 19 left-leaning states and cities.

"A private citizen (or even a state attorney general) has the luxury of making up his mind and never changing course," the states and cities wrote in a docket submission last month. "The decision maker in an administrative proceeding, however, does not."

As recently as March, the senators note, Pruitt said carbon dioxide was not the “primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” in contradiction to EPA scientists.

Three of the four Democrats serve on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the EPA. The submission is the latest salvo from Democrats on the panel following a contentious meeting last week at which Pruitt testified.

During the hearing, Whitehouse asked Pruitt if he remembered a 2016 radio interview in which he referred to then-candidate Trump as "dangerous" and "a bully."

“I don’t, senator,” Pruitt replied. “And I don’t echo that today at all.” (“I bet not,” Whitehouse said in response.) [more]

The Energy 202: Democratic senators demand Pruitt recuse himself from rewriting Clean Power Plan

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