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Toyota Tells EWG ‘No Plans’ to Help Scott Pruitt Gut EPA

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WASHINGTON – Contrary to Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s testimony before a House committee, Toyota has no plans to partner with the agency, the company said in a letter to the Environmental Working Group.

EWG had urged the company to reject the partnership, saying that helping Pruitt “manage EPA into the ground” would betray the ideals of quality, effectiveness and efficiency represented by the vaunted "Toyota Way." It also would have contradicted the company's reputation for and commitment to environmental responsibility.

The EPA and Toyota “had preliminary discussions” about a partnership, “but at this point there are no definitive plans to move forward with a project,” Christopher Reynolds, a Toyota executive vice president, wrote to EWG President Ken Cook last week. The company’s decision to back out of a potential partnership with Pruitt was confirmed today by Alexander Kaufman of HuffPost, who reported that Toyota “has ended talks” with the EPA “under pressure from environmentalists.”

Toyota, whose pioneering of hybrid cars has made it a favorite of environmentally conscious buyers, made a wise decision, Cook said.

“Even the appearance of helping Mr. Pruitt dismantle public health and environmental protections at EPA would be a public relations nightmare for Toyota, and it seems the company agrees,” Cook told HuffPost. “It would be wise for any corporation that cares about its brand and market share among environmentally conscious consumers to steer clear of the Trump administration. They’re bad for business.”

HuffPost’s Kaufman was first to report that during Pruitt’s Dec. 7 testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, he said: “We are actually partnering with Toyota to begin a lean process at the agency to evaluate management practices.”

Since Trump took office, more than 700 employees have already left the EPA, according to The New York Times and ProPublica. Last week Pruitt confirmed to the Washington Examiner that by the end of President Trump’s first term, Pruitt will have cut the agency’s staff by nearly half. 

“I’m sure Toyota executives can imagine what would happen to the company’s brand, reputation and the quality of their cars if they adopted Pruitt’s approach,” said Cook. “More accidents, injuries and fatalities always occur when companies or governments cut corners on safety, and the same fate will befall public health as Pruitt saps EPA of its talented workforce.”