Here are some things we know about Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency: he has argued that climate change helps “humans flourish”; he’s used public money to fly first class and build a $43,000 “privacy booth”; he is generally paranoid about having anyone who might criticize him puncture his bubble of security; he has instructed EPA employees to downplay the human effects of climate change and inject “debate” into settled science; and he is working hard to significantly roll back environmental regulations and help out his energy lobbyist pals in the process.
On Thursday, ABC News unearthed a new factoid about Pruitt: for much of 2017, after assuming his position in the Cabinet, Pruitt lived in a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist. Huh!
The lobbyist in question, J. Steven Hart, is president of the firm Williams & Jensen, which represents clients including Cheniere Energy, the National Rifle Association, and a group called Producers for American Crude Oil Exports. He also happens to be a top Republican fundraiser—his family gave more than $270,000 to Republican candidates in the 2016 election cycle alone.
Hart’s firm specifically lobbied on “issues related to the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG), approval of LNG exports and export facilities.” The firm also lists on its website that it lobbies on other EPA policies like the Clean Air Act.
Cheniere Energy Inc. owned the only active Liquid Natural Gas export plant in the United States at the time. Liquid natural gas exports was on the agenda for discussion during Pruitt’s December 2017 trip to Morocco, according to an agency press release.
On the trip, Pruitt pitched “the potential benefit of liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports on Morocco’s economy,” the release said.
Neither Hart nor the EPA would tell ABC how much Pruitt paid Hart’s wife (who also happens to be a lobbyist) in exchange for staying at the townhouse—“though Hart said he believed it to be the market rate.”
Before starting their term, executive branch appointees (like Pruitt) must sign an ethics pledge agreeing not to accept gifts from registered lobbyists or lobbying organizations. Food for thought!
What good friends these people are to let Pruitt crash at their pad! I see no reason to be concerned about this. I have reached out to the EPA for comment and will update this post if I hear back.