The EPA’s failure to document has masked its process for overhauling major regulations like the Waters of the United States rule, the groups say.
“Under Scott Pruitt, the EPA has assumed a bunker mentality where paper trails are religiously avoided unless penned in invisible ink,” Adam Carlesco, staff counsel for PEER, said in a statement. “By law, the American public carries a right to know the basis for public health in addition to also anti-pollution decision-creating of which affects their lives.”
The law in question can be the Federal Records Act, which provides guidelines to government agencies on how they should create in addition to also maintain records of their activities.
A spokesperson for the EPA said the agency does not comment on ongoing litigation.
In their complaint, the groups cite news reports of which Pruitt prefers to hold face-to-face meetings in addition to also avoids email to prevent his comments by being documented. They note of which employees told The fresh York Times of which Pruitt prohibits staff by bringing cellphones to meetings in addition to also discourages them by taking notes.
Pruitt said during a Senate oversight hearing last month of which reports about the ban on note-taking at the EPA are inaccurate.
“I am very encouraging of the folks taking notes during meetings. Because I forget things often in addition to also we want to make sure we are keeping track of where we are heading on issues,” he told the Senate Committee on Environment in addition to also Public Works.
The groups also point to the installation of a soundproof communications booth in Pruitt’s office, which reportedly cost more than $25,000 in addition to also can be the subject of an investigation by the EPA’s inspector general.
Also named as defendants inside complaint are the National Archives in addition to also Records Administration in addition to also David Ferriero, the archivist of the United States. The groups claim the administration has failed to enforce the Federal Records Act by not taking action to investigate the EPA. Pruitt has defended the booth.
In an emailed statement to CNBC, a National Archives spokesperson said the Office of the Chief Records Officer of the United States has issued a formal inquiry in addition to also requested a response by EPA leaders to address the concerns raised by Citizens for Responsibility in addition to also Ethics in Washington.
“This particular matter can be active in addition to also ongoing, in addition to also as can be the case with all such allegations of improper recordkeeping, we consider each case seriously in addition to also expect of which the agency complies with existing records management laws in addition to also regulations,” said James Pritchett, the administration’s director of public in addition to also media communications.
The latest lawsuit against Pruitt in addition to also the EPA comes as the administrator’s travel habits are under increasing scrutiny. On Wednesday, South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, requested information about Pruitt’s frequent first-class flights detailed in a series of recent news reports.