Can You Run an Agency You’re Actively Suing? Trump’s EPA Nominee Thinks So

Can you actively sue the government agency you are set to run? That’s not a hypothetical question – Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, is about to show us just how exactly that works.

In an administration marked with unprecedented levels of conflicts of interest, Pruitt might manage to take the cake. To date, Pruitt has filed over a dozen lawsuits against the EPA while serving as Oklahoma’s attorney general. He’s become a folk hero of sorts among conservative business tycoons as he attempts to strike down environmental regulations.

Aside from the fact that he doesn’t care much about protecting the environment, of course, the problem is that eight of his cases are still pending. That puts him in the awkward if not outright bizarre position of having to represent the EPA in cases he filed against the agency.

There is a little bit of good news: The U.S. Office of Government Ethics has intervened to demand that Pruitt recuse himself from all lawsuits brought forward by his home state of Oklahoma for his year in the job.

The catch is that these cases could feasibly linger in court for well over a year. Asked whether he would voluntarily recuse himself from these conflicts of interest in the future, however, Pruitt declined to promise that.

Assuming you can find it in you to laugh at the situation, almost all of Pruitt’s lawsuits have been unsuccessful. The fact that he may now be able to change regulations in ways that the court wouldn’t initially approve is obviously alarming.

As Care2’s Robin Marty wrote six weeks ago when Pruitt was first named the nominee, Pruitt’s lawsuits are designed to represent the corporations of Oklahoma rather than the people. He’s spent his career working in favor of the oil, gas and coal industry, the same entities he’d be tasked with keeping in line as the top dog at the EPA.

If that weren’t bad enough, Pruitt declined to give his opinion on the cause of climate change at his confirmation hearing, calling it “immaterial.”

“Really?” asked Senator Bernie Sanders. “You are going to be the head of the agency to protect the environment, and your personal opinions about whether climate change is caused by human activity and carbon emissions is immaterial?”

FiveThirtyEight is already wondering whether Pruitt will be the worst EPA head since Ronald Reagan appointed Anne Burford to the job. A friend of corporations, she slashed the agency’s enforcement budget nearly by half and then ultimately had to exit her job when Congress found her in contempt.

If none of this sounds like Pruitt is a good fit to run the EPA, sign this petition asking the U.S. Senate to stop his confirmation.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nancy W
Nancy W2 years ago

Care2 you have a bug in your comment section? , is being added into the text. It is making reading difficult. Can you fix it?

Richard A
Richard A2 years ago

It seems like many of the presidential Cabinet appointments have conflicts of interest. I would guess the president could be included in that list also. The whole mess is a conflict of interest. David Y. +1 . . . Soon it should become apparent regarding those that love money more than they love their country.

Marty P
Marty Price2 years ago

David Youmans...Well Said There Buddy!

Cathy B
Cathy B2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

Patricia H
Patricia Harris2 years ago

I'm sorry, Jennifer, but we just can't afford to wait on our slacking government to do anything right by the environment anymore. We have to take matters into our own hands if we want a better future. If We won't do something about this turmoil besides writing letters, then NOBODY will. It's no longer up to the corrupted government to make things right, it's now up to we the people (who are clearly looking forward to the end-times rather than smartening up and actually trying to prevent it, tooth and nail. ) This is a man-made problem we're talking about!! Thus, only we can stop it. If this were an act of God, then that would be a completely different story.

Peggy B
Peggy B2 years ago


Julie D
Julie D2 years ago

This entire Trump Administration is beyond ridiculous, despicable, dishonest, inappropriate, corrupt to the core, and absolutely unacceptable period! It seems that they are all hell bent on destroying every bit of progress we have made in every area of our existence over the past 70 years as fast as they possibly can. And then they stand around for photo ops with their leader, Furor Trump, the ignorant, ruthless, narcissistic, mentally deranged, disgusting orange pig, with their smug ugly faces so proud of themselves, the Fascist Regime in all their glory. I am beyond furious, beyond sad, beyond revolted, just beyond period! As outraged as I am with all of that, I am even more outraged at his supporters who think this is all wonderful and fabulous. It is all a big horror show, and it just gets worse with each passing day.

Ellen L
Ellen L2 years ago