M. Scott Carter reports on politics, legislation and other issues from the State Capitol.
Update, Dec. 10, 2014: Attorney General Scott Pruitt announced Tuesday that the state is suing President Obama over his executive actions on immigration.
Responding to a New York Times story, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said Monday that it should come as no surprise that he was “working diligently with Oklahoma energy companies, the people of Oklahoma and the majority of attorneys general to fight the unlawful overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.”
The Times story, published Sunday under the headline, “Energy Firms in Secret Alliance With Attorneys General,” raised questions about Pruitt’s ties to Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy. The story was the second in a series examining “the explosion in lobbying of state attorneys general by corporate interests and the millions in campaign donations they now provide.”
Sunday’s story said that documents obtained under the Open Records Act offered “a hint of the unprecedented, secretive alliance that Mr. Pruitt and other Republican attorneys general have formed with some of the nation’s top energy producers to push back against the Obama regulatory agenda.”
The story described how Pruitt sent a three-page letter to the EPA in October 2011 accusing regulators of vastly overestimating the amount of pollution caused by new natural gas wells drilled in Oklahoma. The letter had been written by lawyers for Devon and delivered to Pruitt’s office. His staff copied the letter onto state government stationary with only a few word changes and sent it to Washington with Pruitt’s signature, the Times reported.
On Monday, Pruitt said in a written statement that he was battling the Obama administration’s effort to impose anti-fossil fuel policies because they were “shortsighted and unconstitutional.
“I will continue to fight the administration’s unconstitutional maneuvers at every step of the way,” he said.
“Oklahomans understand and appreciate the impact energy companies have on our state,” Pruitt added. “The energy industry provides thousands of good-paying jobs and counts for hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that support education, public safety and roads and bridges in our state. The rules and regulations imposed unlawfully and inconsistently by the EPA have real-world implications for the citizens and state of Oklahoma.”
The Times story also noted that Pruitt said at an event last month that he planned to sue the Obama administration over its new immigration policies. Last week, 17 states, including Texas and Kansas, filed such a lawsuit, but Oklahoma was not among them.
On Monday, Pruitt’s spokesman, Aaron Cooper, said the office is still weighing its options on the matter.
“We didn’t join the Texas lawsuit and are looking at our options, which could include a lawsuit of our own,” Cooper wrote in a separate email to Oklahoma Watch. “We have not made a final decision, but I’ll let you know when we do.”