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New Emails Show Link Between Utah Governor's Office And Lobbyist On EPA Air Quality Rule

Utah Governor Gary Herbert
File photo / KUER
Utah Governor Gary Herbert

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Scott Pruitt may have resigned but the controversies continue. A recently disclosed collection of emails between the EPA, an oil and gas lobbyist and at least one elected official in Utah are causing concern.

Politico first reported on the emails, which came from a 2017 freedom of information lawsuit between the Sierra Club and the EPA.

One email had suggested talking points from energy lobbyist Marc Himmelstein to loosen ozone air quality regulations in Utah’s Uinta Basin for oil and gas developers.

A letter later that month from Utah Governor Gary Herbert to Administrator Pruitt had nearly identical language from the lobbyist.

Matthew Gravatt is with the Sierra Club. He said the emails show Utah’s governor is taking his direction from polluters instead of the public.

“This is an abuse of public trust. People in Utah deserve to know which other policies if any have been written by lobbyists for polluting industries,” Gravatt said.

In an emailed statement the Governor’s office said it’s been working collaboratively with all public and private stakeholders and that this proposal is an effort to balance environmental and economic health. They said the genesis of the letter was not from one stakeholder, but from talking to many over time.

Read the talking points from the Marc Himmelstein and letter from Gov. Herbert below.Talking Points on Scribd

Herbert Letter p 1-2 on Scribd

Emily Holden of Politico contributed to this report. 

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

Copyright 2021 KUER 90.1. To see more, visit KUER 90.1.

Erik Neumann is a radio producer and writer. A native of the Pacific Northwest, his work has appeared on public radio stations and in magazines along the West Coast. He received his Bachelor's Degree in geography from the University of Washington and a Master's in Journalism from UC Berkeley. Besides working at KUER, he enjoys being outside in just about every way possible.
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