WASHINGTON Dec 28 Democrats on the U.S.
Senate's environment panel on Wednesday asked President-elect
Donald Trump's choice to head the Environmental Protection
Agency to disclose his ties to the energy industry ahead of his
confirmation hearing early next year.
The six senators sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, who as
Oklahoma Attorney General led several lawsuits against the Obama
administration's EPA to block its environmental rules, to ask
him to list his connections to energy companies to weigh whether
these ties will influence his ability to run the agency.
"What that conduct says about your ability to lead EPA in a
manner that is not beholden to special or secret interests is a
subject that we expect will receive a full airing during your
confirmation hearing," the senators wrote in the letter.
The senators raised concerns about a 2014 New York Times
report, which found that Pruitt's close ties to Devon Energy
Corp were reflected in his policy positions as
Oklahoma's top attorney.
For his part, Pruitt said to newspaper The Oklahoman that
Devon Energy was a constituent that he represents and the
company made people aware of the government's regulatory
overreach on fracking.
The senators also said Pruitt's involvement with the Rule of
Law Defense Fund, which they said supports initiatives by the
billionaire industrialist Koch brothers, who have opposed the
EPA's climate change regulations.
They asked Pruitt to submit details about his connections
and contributions to the Fund, his communications with the fund
and a "list of all federal and state legislation or regulations
the Fund has taken a position on."
"The confirmation process, starting with your responses to
Committee questions before your hearing, is an opportunity for
you to dispel the notion that the advocacy you have undertaken
on environmental issues as Attorney General of Oklahoma has been
directed by and for the benefit of the energy industry," the
A spokesman for Pruitt was not immediately available for
The Democratic Senators who sent the letter are Rhode
Island's Sheldon Whitehouse, former Democratic presidential
candidate Bernie Sanders, Oregon's Jeff Merkley, New Jersey's
Cory Booker, Massachusetts' Ed Markey and Maryland's Ben Cardin.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Marguerita Choy)