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Pruitt's EPA lived in the DC condo affiliated with the energy lobbyist



WASHINGTON – The head of the Environmental Protection Agency lived in a condominium in Capitol Hill, which is connected to a prominent lobbyist in Washington, whose company is a list of fossil fuel companies.

ABC News first reported on Thursday by EPO Administrator Scott Pruitt in a building on a leafy street about a block from the US Capitol. Records indicate that three units within the building belong to a corporation owned by J. Steven Hart's wife, chairman and CEO of powerhouse lobbying firm Williams and Jensen PLLC. It was not immediately clear how much Pruitt paid for the house.

Company customers include Exxon Mobil Corp. and the largest exporter of LNG Cheniere Energy Inc.

A Republican, previously Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt has long been a champion of the oil and gas industry. In the year he served as chief environmental officer for the Trump administration, Pruitt scrapped, replaced or replaced numerous environmental regulations that industry rejected, while increasing the continued burning of fossil fuels, which is the main cause of climate change. [1

96592002] In December, Pruitt and his associates spent about $ 40,000 in taxpayer money to fly to Morocco to encourage the North African Kingdom to import liquefied natural gas from the United States. Cheniere, the lobby customer of Hart & # 39; s company, is currently the only exporter of liquefied natural gas from the continental United States.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Hart said Pruitt was a random Oklahoma friend who moved into the building in early 2017. Hart said he had been out of contact with Pruitt for months, except for a brief exchange at the National Prayer Breakfast February.

"Pruitt signed a market-based, short-term lease for a condo that is partially owned by my wife," Hart said, according to a statement released by his company. "Pruitt has paid all the rents agreed in the lease, but my wife does not and has never supported the EPA."

Harts wife Vicki Hart is also a lobbyist, focusing on healthcare issues.

Steven Hart's company did not respond to questions about how much Pruitt paid. The market rents in the area typically amount to more than $ 3,000 for two bedrooms.

The EPA press office did not respond to messages seeking a comment on Pruit's housing arrangements in Washington. News seeking a comment from the White House also received no response.

Pruitt became increasingly aware of the frequent taxpayers' money, which was funded by taxpayers and included top flight tickets. Although federal governments usually require federal officials to fly in coaches, the EPO chief has said he had to sit in premium seats because of security concerns.

Pruitt's EPA trips often include weekend stays at his home in Tulsa. The EPO chief is widely mentioned in Oklahoma as a possible successor to Senator James Inhofe, the state's eighty-year-old GOP Senator, who is due to retire at the end of his term.

Harley's lobbying firm is owned by OGE Energy Corp. ., an electricity company serving Oklahoma and Arkansas. According to US government reports, in 2017, the company paid $ 400,000 to Williams and Jensen to engage in issues that included EPA regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Copies of Pruit's daily calendar received by the AP through a public request Pruitt held a meeting in March 2017 at his EPO office with OGE Chairman and CEO Sean Trauschke and Company Vice President Paul Renfrow. The meeting was arranged at the request of George Baker, a registered lobbyist of Hart & # 39; s company, who also attended.

In October, the EPA announced that it would rewrite the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era scheme that sought to limit planetary warming to carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, as operated by the OGE. The EPA has also enacted scrap legislation that reduces the emissions of power plants producing such toxic substances as mercury, as well as stricter standards for coal-containing heaps.

Records show that Pruitt had a long relationship with OGE. Oklahoma campaign finance reports show more than three dozen OGE leaders who donated Pruitt's re-election campaign for a 2014 Attorney General despite running without a Democratic opponent. OGE Chairman Peter Delaney contributed $ 3,500, while Trauschke contributed $ 2,500 and Renfrow $ 1,000.

Environmental groups on Thursday hinted at Pruitts life as further evidence of polluters and renewed their call for resignation. [19659002] "Scott Pruitt, who aims to protect our families from pollution, literally lived in a fossil fuel house," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "The EPA administrator should be able to withstand the polluters of corporations and not live in their homes while they push their agenda at every turn."

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Associated Press author Tim Talley contributed from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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Follow Associated Press Environmental Reporter Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed.


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