During his historically long Senate committee hearing, EPA administrator nominee and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt answered more than 1,200 questions, but it's one specific answer that's raising eyebrows.
His answer to New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker about a decade long pollution case.
“I had every authority to dismiss that case when I came into office. I did not. That case is still pending today awaiting a federal Judge’s decision. I've taken no action to undermine that case. I've done nothing but file briefs in support of the court making a decision,” Pruitt said in his hearing on Jan. 18.
According to court records, however, it's not true. Pruitt never filed any brief asking the court for a decision since being elected in 2010.
The case is about a claim made by Oklahoma in 2007, alleging Arkansas poultry farms were dumping hundreds of thousands of tons of animal waste into the Illinois River, contaminating Oklahoma waters downstream. The case had been on the docket for three years when Pruitt took office, and since then, has never moved.
Adding to the mix, Pruitt received $40,000 from defendants in the case including top executives at Tyson Foods while running for attorney general in 2010, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics.
The discovery of Pruitt's false claim comes one day after 447 former EPA employees wrote a letter to the entire 100 member Senate saying, "Mr. Pruitt has shown no interest in enforcing environmental laws, a critically important function for EPA," the group made of members who served in both Republican and Democratic White Houses wrote.
They continued saying Pruitt’s answers suggest he "does not share the vision or agree with the underlying principles of our environmental laws.”
In reports, a spokesperson for Pruitt’s confirmation team referred to a brief filed in 2011, although that brief did not specifically encourage the judge to make a ruling. The spokesperson said the single brief was intended to encourage a decision. The attorney general's office in Oklahoma City echoed that response.
Pruitt cleared the Senate environment and public works committee with a 11-0 vote after the Republicans voted to suspend Senate rules because Democrats boycotted two votes.