The inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will review a meeting between the National Mining Association and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to determine whether he violated federal anti-lobbying regulations.
According to a Dec. 4 letter from EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins, Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., requested that the U.S. Government Accountability Office provide a legal opinion on whether Pruitt or his staff violated the Antideficiency Act or other appropriation laws, including the anti-lobbying provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, when he allegedly urged groups to publicly support the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Pallone requested that the IG create a factual record of instances where possible legal violations may have occurred.
Elkins consented to the request. "We will review the single meeting between EPA Administrator Pruitt and the National Mining Association in April 2017 that you identified in your letter to me. The GAO stated to us that it could and would use the factual record regarding that meeting to conduct its analysis," Elkins said in the letter.
He said that due to budget restrictions and numerous other requested actions, he was unsure when he would be able to begin.
The GAO also accepted a request in July from Democratic senators to review how the EPA selected members for its federal advisory committees. Portions of Pruitt's schedule released by the EPA showed meetings with the National Mining Association and other industry members between April and early September.
Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a release that Pruitt has "flouted nearly every norm, ethic, and responsibility of office since seizing control of the EPA, so it's no surprise to see that he's now being investigated for breaking the law. Pruitt is an embarrassment unable to hide his true allegiances to corporate polluters and those that seek to dismantle the EPA. It's past time Pruitt resigns and returns to the darkest corners of the fossil fuel industry so a person who believes in protecting Americans' right to clean air and water can take over."
The National Mining Association declined to comment.