Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, July 5, 2017

Contact:  Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

EPA Continues to Withhold Information on Pruitt's 'Sue and Settle' Directive

Agency Claims It Has No Records; Pruitt Insists Directive Exists

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sent a formal appeal today to the Environmental Protection Agency seeking records regarding a directive by Administrator Scott Pruitt regarding “sue and settle” agreements by his agency. Speaking at an environmental policy conference on May 24, Pruitt boasted that “I have actually sent out a directive across the agency that the days of ruling by consent order, the days of ruling by litigation in the judicial system are over.”

The Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn about that directive. On July 3 the EPA responded that it had no records regarding a directive relating to “sue and settle” agreements. The Center is appealing that determination today.

“How can the head of an agency send out a directive without any documentation? Scott Pruitt is turning the EPA into one of the least transparent agencies in the federal government,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center. “He may think that he can do all of the EPA's business in the shadows while cozying up to industry, but he's dead wrong. It's illegal, and the American people won't stand for it.”

In addition to the Center, two media organizations and the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce also requested documentation relating to this directive. The EPA responded to Energy & Environment News by stating that Scott Pruitt had sent an “oral directive” rather than a written one. The Center is now seeking documentation relating to this oral directive.

“The public has every right to know how and why Trump's administration is deciding on policy changes, especially at an agency in charge of protecting us from pollution,” Hartl said. “It's disturbing to see Pruitt scurrying to keep his decisions out of the public light of day. Bad things happen when the government is allowed to operate in the shadows.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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