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Pruitt gives first speech to EPA employees; Oklahoma Attorney General’s office turns over thousands of documents

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Former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt gave his first speech Tuesday as the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

He gave the speech to employees of the EPA at their headquarters in Washington.

This comes on the same day the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office turned over about 7,564 pages of documents to the Center for Media and Democracy.

The watchdog group out of Wisconsin had requested the documents two years ago in an open records request.

They were seeking, among other things, e-mails Pruitt had with oil and gas companies in our state, trying to see his connections to the industry and how his decisions might have been influenced by those connections.

An Oklahoma judge recently gave the AG’s office until Tuesday to turn those over, saying they had not complied in a timely manner with the open records request.

In Pruitt’s speech Tuesday, he thanked the employees of the EPA for their service and dedication and said he looked forward to working with them.

“This is a beginning. It’s a beginning for us to spend time and discuss certain principles by which I think this agency should conduct itself,” Pruitt said.

He highlighted civility, finding answers and listening to one another.

“You can’t lead unless you listen. I seek to listen, learn and lead with you to address these issues that we face as a nation,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt then went on to talk about the process of rule making and how the agency regulates, saying regulators exist to give certainty to those they regulate.

“We need to be open and transparent and objective in how we do rule making and make sure that we follow the letter of the law as we do so, because that will send I think a great message to those that are regulated. But, more importantly, they will know what’s expected of them and act accordingly,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt avoided the subject of climate change in the approximately 11-minute speech and closed his remarks with a quote from John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy group.

“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread. Places to pray in and play in. I really believe that we can be better as a country. I believe that we as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro energy and jobs and pro environment, that we don’t’ have to choose between the two,” Pruitt said.

The executive director of the Sierra Club tweeted out this in response to Pruitt using the quote in his speech:

“John Muir is rolling over in his grave at the notion of someone as toxic to the environment as Scott Pruitt taking over the EPA.”

The Center for Media and Democracy is looking through the documents turned over by the Attorney General’s office and plans to make those public as soon as possible.