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Another Stain on Pruitt’s Record: Mahard’s Chicken Manure Spill

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A poultry waste lagoon subject to Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s oversight overflowed after a storm in early 2015, fouling nearby creeks and lakes with chicken manure.

In 2011, Pruitt – President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency – joined a consent decree to force Mahard Egg Farm to clean up chicken waste and take steps to prevent spills, as reported by ThinkProgress.

Mahard had been under investigation since at least 2006, and the consent decree spelled out the company’s obligations. As attorney general, Pruitt’s job was to enforce the decree. In particular, state officials were authorized to inspect the lagoon and related facilities to ensure compliance. According to attorneys who alerted EWG to the matter, the chicken manure lagoon breach at Mahard’s Boogie Hill facility demonstrates that Pruitt wasn’t enforcing the consent decree.   

That hasn’t stopped him from taking credit for the case, however.

During his confirmation hearing to become EPA administrator, Pruitt singled out the Mahard case as an environmental achievement, saying his office had filed suit and “received a good outcome.”

He also listed the case among the “cases or investigations initiated by AG Scott Pruitt” rather than “cases initiated by AG Drew Edmondson but continued under Scott Pruitt.” That’s not true.

In fact, Mahard had been the subject of an investigation long before Pruitt took office. When Pruitt signed the consent decree a mere five months into his tenure as attorney general, settlement negotiations had already been underway for years.

An EPA spokesperson told ThinkProgress that the case was opened in 2008 and negotiations began no more than a year later. The lawyer who represented Mahard said Pruitt was hardly involved in negotiations and that the process was driven by the EPA and the Justice Department.

Pruitt can’t take credit for initiating the Mahard case, but his office was responsible for the lax enforcement of the agreement. It’s yet another example of Pruitt misleading the public on his environmental record – and another reason he should not be confirmed. 

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