|14th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency|
February 17, 2017
|Deputy||Mike Flynn (Acting)|
|Preceded by||Gina McCarthy|
|17th Attorney General of Oklahoma|
January 10, 2011 – February 17, 2017
|Preceded by||Drew Edmondson|
|Succeeded by||Mike Hunter|
|Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 36th district
|Preceded by||District renamed from 54th|
|Succeeded by||Bill Brown|
|Member of the Oklahoma Senate
from the 54th district
|Preceded by||Gerald "Ged" Wright|
|Succeeded by||District renamed to 36th|
|Born||Edward Scott Pruitt
May 9, 1968
Danville, Kentucky, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Marlyn Pruitt (1992–present)|
|Residence||Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|Education||Georgetown College (BA)
University of Tulsa (JD)
Edward Scott Pruitt (born May 9, 1968) is an American lawyer and Republican politician from the state of Oklahoma who is currently the 14th Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Nominated by President Donald Trump in December 2016, Pruitt was confirmed by the Senate to lead the EPA on February 17, 2017.
Pruitt represented Tulsa and Wagoner Counties in the Oklahoma Senate from 1998 until 2006. In 2006, Pruitt narrowly lost to Oklahoma Speaker of the House Todd Hiett in a bid for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. In 2010, Pruitt was elected Attorney General of Oklahoma. In that role, he was viewed as a proponent of federalism, supporting religious freedom laws and opposing abortion rights, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and environmental regulations as a self-described "leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda". He fought the agency's efforts on climate and clear air in several lawsuits, often closely coordinating with the fossil fuel industry, which supported him with almost $300,000 in campaign contributions. In 2012, Pruitt was elected as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, and re-elected for a second term in February 2013.
Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human activities are a primary contributor to climate change. He specifically rejects the stance of the scientific community, including US agencies NASA and NOAA, that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Law and business career
- 3 Early political career
- 4 Oklahoma Attorney General
- 5 Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- 6 Political positions
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Electoral history
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
Pruitt was born in 1968 in Danville, Kentucky, but moved to Lexington as a boy. He was a standout football and baseball player at Lafayette, earning a baseball scholarship to the University of Kentucky, where he played second base. After a year, he attended Georgetown College in Kentucky and graduated in 1990 with bachelor's degrees in political science and communications. He then moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he attended the University of Tulsa and earned a Juris Doctor in 1993.
Law and business career
Pruitt entered into private practice in Tulsa where he specialized in constitutional law, contracts, insurance law, labor law, and litigation and appeals.
From 2003 until he was elected Attorney General of Oklahoma in 2010, Pruitt was co-owner and the managing general partner of the Oklahoma RedHawks, a AAA minor league baseball team. Pruitt has said that, while he was the owner, the team "regularly rated among the league's leaders in attendance and merchandise sales."
Early political career
Oklahoma State Senate
After five years as an attorney, Pruitt was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1998, representing Tulsa and Wagoner Counties. After two years in the Senate, Pruitt was selected to serve as the Republican whip from 2001 to 2003. He was then selected to serve as the Republican Assistant Floor Leader, a position he held until he left the Senate in 2006.
2001 U.S. House campaign
Pruitt, while a freshman state legislator, sought his party's nomination to succeed Steve Largent as the representative for Oklahoma's 1st congressional district in 2001. Largent, who had resigned to run for Governor of Oklahoma, would be replaced by special election rather than by gubernatorial appointment. Two other main candidates emerged for the job, including sitting State Representative John A. Sullivan, the eventual winner, and Cathy Keating, the wife of then-Governor Frank Keating. Pruitt came in third behind Sullivan and Keating.
2006 Lieutenant Governor campaign
Pruitt sought the Republican nomination to replace outgoing Republican Mary Fallin as Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma in the 2006 lieutenant gubernatorial election. In the primary election, Pruitt faced Nancy Riley and Speaker of the House Todd Hiett. In the primary election on July 25, 2006, Pruitt received 34% of the vote, Riley received 23%, and Hiett received 43%. Pruitt, pursuant to Oklahoma state law, had to face Hiett in a runoff election in order to receive the party's nomination. Pruitt was defeated by Hiett by less than one percent in the run-off primary.
Oklahoma Attorney General
In 2010, Pruitt ran for the position of Attorney General of Oklahoma. He won the Republican primary on July 27, 2010, with 56.05% of the vote, defeating Ryan Leonard, a former state prosecutor in Canadian County and former senior aide to former U.S. Senator Don Nickles. Pruitt went on to defeat the Democratic nominee, Oklahoma City defense attorney Jim Priest, in the November 2, 2010, general election with 65.11% of the vote.
Pruitt ran unopposed in both the primary and general elections.
After winning election, Pruitt dissolved the Environmental Protection Unit in the Attorney General's office. He stated a desire to increase operational efficiency and shifted the attorneys responsible for environmental protection to the Attorney General's Public Protection Unit and the Solicitor General's Unit. Pruitt stated that "the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality – not the Office of Attorney General – has primary responsibility for implementing and enforcing environmental laws in Oklahoma."
Pruitt instead created a "Federalism Unit" in the Attorney General's office dedicated to fighting President Barack Obama's regulatory agenda and suing the administration over its immigration policy, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
Pruitt's office has sued the EPA to block its Clean Power Plan and Waters of the United States rule. Pruitt has also sued the EPA on behalf of Oklahoma utilities unwilling to take on the burdens of additional regulation of their coal-fired plants, and criticized the agency in a congressional hearing. As of June 2014, all of Pruitt's lawsuits against the EPA had failed. By January 2017, Pruitt had sued the EPA 13 times.
Pruitt has been successful in raising campaign contributions from the energy industry, helping him to become chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association. The oil and gas industry has contributed over $300,000 to Pruitt's campaigns over the years.
In 2012, Pruitt kept Oklahoma out of the mortgage settlement reached by 49 other states with five national lenders, with Pruitt citing differing philosophies of government.
In 2013, Pruitt brought a lawsuit targeting the Affordable Care Act.
In 2013, Pruitt supported the Oklahoma legislature's bid to join four other states trying to restrict medical abortions by limiting or banning off-label uses of drugs, via House Bill 1970. After the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court's ruling that the abortion law was unconstitutional, Pruitt requested that the United States Supreme Court review the case. Pruitt was unhappy with the United States Supreme Court's rejection of the Oklahoma case.
In June 2013, Pruitt maintained that the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a provision of DOMA, a federal law that denied federal benefits to homosexual married couples did not affect Oklahoma's laws on the subject.
Pruitt expressed his dissatisfaction when a federal court ruled that Oklahoma's voter-approved amendment in 2004 to the Oklahoma State Constitution that defined marriage as only the union of one man and one woman was a violation of the U.S. Constitution in 2014. In October 2014, Pruitt criticized the Supreme Court's refusal to hear Oklahoma's appeal in the definition of marriage case.
On March 6, 2014, Pruitt joined a lawsuit targeting California's prohibition on the sale of eggs laid by caged hens kept in conditions more restrictive than those approved by California voters. Less than a week later, Pruitt announced that he would investigate the Humane Society of the United States, one of the principal proponents of the California law. In October 2014, a California judge dismissed the lawsuit, rejecting the arguments of Pruitt and the other attorneys-general concerning California's Proposition 2, a 2008 ballot initiative. Judge Kimberly Mueller ruled that Oklahoma and the other states lacked legal standing to sue on behalf of their residents and that Pruitt and other plaintiffs were representing the interests of egg farmers, rather than "a substantial statement of their populations."
On September 9, 2014, in Pruitt v. Burwell, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma ruled against the IRS.
In November 2014, after the Oklahoma Supreme Court blocked the enforcement of two abortion-related laws until after their constitutionality was litigated (which could take up to a year or more), Pruitt's office communicated the Attorney General's intention to support their implementation and enforcement.
In 2013, Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, co-chaired Pruitt's reelection campaign. Pruitt ran unopposed in the 2014 primary election and won the November 2014 election for a new term as Attorney General. Pruitt then jointly filed a lawsuit against a federal regulation alongside the Oklahoma Gas & Electric and an energy industry group funded by Hamm.
On Sunday, December 7, 2014, The New York Times published a front-page story highlighting that Pruitt had used his office's stationery to send form letters written by energy industry lobbyists to federal agencies during public comment.
In April 2015, Pruitt wrote a letter to school superintendents stating that schools can lawfully allow the dissemination of religious literature on campus.
In April 2014, an Oklahoma trial court found the state's execution drug supply law was unconstitutional, and after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals refused to order a stop to executions, the Oklahoma Supreme Court did. Pruitt then filed a motion arguing that the Supreme Court was acting outside its authority, complaining it was causing a "constitutional crisis". After the Supreme Court refused Pruitt's motion, Governor Mary Fallin faced conflicting court orders, so she issued a declaration rejecting the Supreme Court's authority and scheduling executions. After the state then botched the execution of Clayton Lockett, and the U.S. Supreme Court's subsequently approved of Oklahoma's method in Glossip v. Gross, Pruitt asked to delay all scheduled executions in Oklahoma upon discovering executioners had accidentally used the wrong drug in a lethal injection.
In May 2016, Attorneys General Pruitt and Luther Strange authored an op-ed in the National Review criticizing other state attorneys general for "acting like George III" regarding the ExxonMobil climate change controversy, writing "global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."
After the organization Oklahomans for Health collected the legally required number of signatures for a referendum ballot on the legalization of medical marijuana, in August 2016, Pruitt's office moved to rewrite the ballot title, but not in time for the November 2016 election. The measure will appear on the 2018 ballot.
In February 2017, Pruitt was ordered by the Oklahoma District Court to release thousands of emails of communication with fossil fuel industries in order to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests filed over a two-year period by the liberal watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy.
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
Nomination and confirmation
On December 7, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The nomination was reviewed during hearings held by the members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, then referred to the full Senate for a vote.
In a statement explaining the decision to nominate Pruitt, President-elect Trump said that the EPA had an "anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs" and that Pruitt, "the highly respected Attorney General from the state of Oklahoma, will reverse this trend and restore the EPA’s essential mission of keeping our air and our water clean and safe." In response to the nomination, Pruitt said, "I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses." Following Pruitt's nomination hearing, Senator John Barrasso stated that "Mr. Pruitt answered significantly more questions than any past EPA administrator has. He has been comprehensively vetted and has demonstrated his qualifications to lead the EPA." Also in January 2017, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who worked with Pruitt on multiple cases, said of Pruitt that "[he] cares passionately about the rule of law" and that "[a]ll the actions he's been involved in are rooted in the firm belief that what the administration was doing was unlawful."
As a result of Pruitt's criticism as Oklahoma Attorney General of the organization that he would be expected to administer, Gene Karpinski, the president of the League of Conservation Voters, described the nomination as being "like the fox guarding the henhouse ... Time and again, he has fought to pad the profits of Big Polluters at the expense of public health." Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, has said, "Pruitt's record gives us no reason to believe that he will vigorously hold polluters accountable or enforce the law ... everything we do know makes it clear that he can't and won't do the job." 447 former EPA employees penned a joint letter to oppose Pruitt's nomination, arguing that his lawsuits against the EPA "strongly suggest that he does not share the vision or agree with the underlying principles of our environmental laws", and that they believed that he had not "put the public's welfare ahead of private interests".
On February 17, 2017, the Senate confirmed Pruitt, by a vote of 52–46, to be the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The vote was mostly along party lines, with Republican Susan Collins voting against, and Democrats Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp voting in favor (Republican John McCain and Democrat Joe Donnelly did not vote). Pruitt was sworn in the same day by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.
On March 9, 2017, in an interview on CNBC's Squawk Box, Pruit stated that he "would not agree that" carbon dioxide is "a primary contributor to the global warming that we see" backing up his claim by stating that "measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact." This was in direct contradiction with EPA's public stance that was published on their official website which stated: "Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change". By April 28—the day before the climate change mass protests—EPA announced that the website "would be 'undergoing changes' to better represent the new direction the agency is taking" which included "the removal of several agency websites containing detailed climate data and scientific information" including the site that "had been cited to challenge Pruitt's Squawk Box statements. A March 9 analysis by fact-checking website Snopes.com found that "Pruitt's statements to CNBC are misrepresentative of the scientific consensus on carbon dioxide's role as a greenhouse gas — a consensus that has essentially existed for more than a century." The Atlantic had published an article on the same day, pointing out that in 2007, the United States Supreme Court had acknowledged the link between carbon dioxide and global warming—in 2013 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated the probability of carbon dioxide causing global warming was at least 95%.
Pruitt's chosen deputy, chief of staff, and deputy chief of staff are all former members of Senator Jim Inhofe's (R-OK) staff. Pruitt picked Washington statehouse senators Don Benton and Doug Ericksen to be, respectively, a White House liaison and a regional administrator. The President's first budget instructs Pruitt to cut the agency's budget by 24% and reduce its 15,000 employees by 20%.
On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order directing Pruitt to rescind the Clean Power Plan. On March 29, 2017 Pruitt denied an administrative petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America to ban chlorpyrifos.
By reversing the previous administration's steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.— Statement by Scott Pruitt, EPA, Administrator March 29, 2017
On April 5, 2017, Earthjustice sued the EPA, again demanding that the pesticide be banned. Pruitt has refused to rescind EPA's endangerment finding which determined that carbon dioxide emissions threaten public heath, prompting criticism from some conservatives. On April 28, 2017, Pruitt fired scientists from the agency's 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, indicating he intends to replace them with industry representatives.
Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. In a May 17, 2016 article Pruitt co-authored with Alabama attorney general Luther Strange in National Review they wrote, "...global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime." In a May 2016 CNN K-File interview he said, "Fundamentally, from my perspective, it's wrong at its core because the debate about climate change is truly that. It's debate," he said. "There are scientists that agree. There are scientists who don't agree to the extent of man's contribution, and what's even harmful at this point. We've had ebb and flow. We've had obviously, climate conditions change throughout our history. That's scientific fact. It gets cooler, it gets hotter. We don't know the trajectory, if it is on an unsustainable course. Nor do we know the extent by which the burning of fossil fuels, man's contribution to that, is making this far worse than it is. In fact, studies show in the last decade or so, that carbon emissions are actually down. The United States has done a tremendous amount of work to lower those carbon emissions." During his January 18, 2017 confirmation hearing to be EPA Administrator, he said that "the climate is changing, and human activity contributes to that in some manner". In March 2017, Pruitt said that he does not believe that human activities, specifically carbon dioxide emissions, are a primary contributor to climate change, a view which is in contradiction with the scientific consensus.
In an op-ed in National Review, Pruitt wrote "Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind." Additionally, Pruitt joined 12 other Republican attorneys general in writing a letter that stated that "If it is possible to minimize the risks of climate change, then the same goes for exaggeration. If minimization is fraud, exaggeration is fraud."
A May 2017 study in Nature Scientific Reports examined Pruitt's claim that “over the past two decades satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming”. The study found that the claim was false: "Satellite temperature measurements do not support the claim of a “leveling off of warming” over the past two decades".
Pruitt has described himself as "a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda." Upon taking office as Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt established a "federalism unit" to fight "unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach" by the federal government, a first-of-its-kind. Former Democratic attorney general of Virginia Andrew Miller stated that, recalling a meeting in 2013 with Pruitt and other attorneys general, that "[t]he issue of the day was discussed in a way that allowed Attorney General Pruitt, to his credit, to emerge as one of the leaders, if not the leader with respect to energy issues among the attorneys general."
As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA at least 14 times. Regulated industry companies or trade associations who were financial donors to Pruitt's political causes were co-parties in 13 of these 14 cases. These cases included suing to block the anti-climate change Clean Power Plan four times, challenging mercury pollution limits twice, ozone pollution limits once, fighting the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the Clean Water Rule, as well as fighting regulations on methane emissions. Pruitt stated at his Senate confirmation hearing in January 2017 that the EPA has an "obligation" to regulate carbon dioxide in accordance with a 2007 Supreme Court case and 2009 EPA decision establishing carbon emissions as a threat to public health.
Under Pruitt, Oklahoma sued the EPA and lost on challenges to the EPA’s regulatory authority over mercury and other toxins, as well as pollutants responsible for creating regional atmospheric haze. It challenged the manner in which EPA sued unrelated entities and for what Pruitt termed the agency's "sue and settle" practices. Oklahoma further sued and lost after the EPA declined to provide extensive records in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, a request the federal judge hearing the case found to be overly broad and economically burdensome.
Pruitt married his wife, Marilyn, in 1992. They have 2 children: daughter McKenna and son Cade.
November 4, 2014, general election results for Attorney General
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||n/a||100.00%|
November 2, 2010, general election results for Attorney General
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||666,407||65.11%|
|Jim Priest||Democratic Party||357,162||34.89%|
July 27, 2010, Republican primary election results for Attorney General
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||134,335||56.05%|
|Ryan Leonard||Republican Party||105,343||43.95%|
|Todd Hiett||Republican Party||66,220||50.92%|
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||63,817||49.08%|
|Todd Hiett||Republican Party||76,634||42.82%|
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||60,367||33.73%|
|Nancy Riley||Republican Party||41,984||23.46%|
November 5, 2002, general election results for Oklahoma Senate, District 54
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||n/a||100.00%|
|John Sullivan||Republican Party||19,018||45.53%|
|Cathy Keating||Republican Party||12,736||30.49%|
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||9,513||22.77%|
|George E. Banasky||Republican Party||296||0.71%|
|Evelyn R. Rogers||Republican Party||210||0.50%|
November 3, 1998, general election results for Oklahoma Senate, District 54
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||9,971||63.51%|
|Shannon Clark||Democratic Party||5,728||36.49%|
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||2,326||56.33%|
|Gerald Wright||Republican Party||1,803||43.67%|
|Scott Pruitt||Republican Party||1,959||48.94%|
|Gerald Wright||Republican Party||1,820||45.47%|
|Douglas E. Meehan||Republican Party||224||5.59%|
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|Attorney General of Oklahoma
|Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency