Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, took the side of poultry companies and other businesses in Arkansas in a dispute over the pollution of an ecologically sensitive and economically vital watershed, environmental groups say. While he was representing Oklahoma as its attorney general, Pruitt helped to slow the implementation of a plan, forged years ago by both states, to clean a river in his home state.
Even before he was appointed to head the EPA, Pruitt faced questioning about his failure, as Oklahoma attorney general, to implement a standard for phosphorus levels in the Illinois River, which flows from Arkansas into Oklahoma. The river had high levels of phosphorus from animal waste, and poultry producers in Arkansas opposed the standard. In 2013, after receiving contributions from poultry companies that benefited from his inaction, Pruitt agreed to a three-year delay in the implementation of the standard, as was reported when he was first nominated to be EPA administrator.