Oklahoma's Attorney General Scott Pruitt is gaining a national reputation

Scott Pruitt said fighting to make sure federal officials don't exceed their constitutional authority may be the most important role he plays as Oklahoma's attorney general.
by Randy Ellis Modified: October 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012

The Supreme Court agreed with that point, but upheld key portions of the health care act under the federal government's authority to tax.

Even so, Pruitt said he regards the limitations the Supreme Court placed on the Commerce Clause as an important partial victory.

Pruitt said he is gearing up for another potential federalism fight that could pose a gigantic risk to Oklahoma's economy.

There have been discussions at the federal level about the EPA and federal Bureau of Land Management potentially asserting regulatory authority over hydraulic fracturing, an oil and natural gas drilling technique that Pruitt contends has been regulated successfully for decades at the state level.

Technological advancements in hydraulic fracturing have fueled the current oil and gas boom by enabling the commercial extraction of huge reservoirs of oil and natural gas that previously had been locked in massive shale formations.

Some of those formations are located near populated areas back East, where residents haven't had much past experience with oil and gas drilling. Environmentalists in those areas have been calling for increased federal regulation because of concerns about potential water contamination.

If federal agencies were to implement regulations curtailing hydraulic fracturing, it would have a huge impact on Oklahoma's multibillion dollar oil and gas industry.

Pruitt said he is prepared to battle to maintain state regulatory control.

Pruitt's advocacy for states' rights has earned him recognition with his peers in other states. He currently serves as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association and vice chairman of the Midwest Region of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Pruitt's increased national exposure has prompted some to wonder whether he has national political aspirations.

Pruitt, a huge baseball fan and former co-owner and managing general partner of the Oklahoma City RedHawks Triple-A baseball team, turned to his baseball roots and paraphrased a former great New York Yankee catcher when asked whether he has such aspirations.

“What was that quote by Yogi Berra? Predictions are pretty tough, particularly about the future,” he said.

“I'm excited to be where I am,” Pruitt said. “There couldn't be a better time to serve the people of Oklahoma as attorney general than today, because of all these things we're combating.”

Pruitt said Oklahomans needn't be concerned that all the time he has spent battling federal actions that he believes infringe on states' rights and individual liberties have distracted him from important state issues.

“At the same time that we're engaged on health care and at the same time we're engaged on regional haze and these other areas …, our workers' comp fraud unit last year prosecuted the most cases it has ever prosecuted and we're on track to exceed that this year,” he said.

Pruitt said he has an entire criminal appeals unit dedicated to making sure justice is administered to individuals who have harmed Oklahomans.

He then proceeded to rattle off a long list of state issues his office has been handling on a day-to-day basis.

“We're just doing our job,” he said. “All those things are important and we're doing all of those things, I think, in a meaningful way.”

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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It's all about making sure the enumerated powers — the limited powers that are vested in the federal government — are there. And if there is an expansion or overreach beyond that, the states step in. That's exactly the role, I would say, of the modern-day AG.”

Scott Pruitt

Oklahoma

Attorney General

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