The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday delivered a win for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, halting the scheduled release of thousands of additional emails from Mr. Pruitt’s time as the state’s attorney general.
Earlier this month the attorney general’s office complied with a lower court’s order and made public more than 7,500 pages of emails. Many of them contained communications between Mr. Pruitt, his deputies and oil-and-gas companies.
Critics argue those documents proved the EPA chief is far too cozy with the fossil fuels sector, pointing to specific instances in which he coordinated with oil-and-gas firms in the effort to fight Obama-era environmental regulations.
Another massive email dump was scheduled for late this week in response to lawsuits from the watchdog group The Center for Media and Democracy.
But the Oklahoma attorney general’s office argued in court that it simply didn’t have time to review all the emails and compile them for public release.
“All those documents have to be manually reviewed … twice,” the state assistant attorney general, Dan Weitman, said in a court hearing Tuesday, adding that it took staffers more than 90 man-hours to put together the initial release.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court agreed with that argument, and late Tuesday afternoon reversed the lower court’s order and issued an indefinite stay, keeping Mr. Pruitt’s emails under wraps for the foreseeable future.
“Enforcement of the trial court’s order … is stayed until further order from this court,” the state supreme court said in its ruling.