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WASHINGTON U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt has recused himself from several court cases that he pursued against the agency when he was Oklahoma attorney general, according to a recusal statement.

Pruitt, who had sued the environmental agency more than a dozen times when he was the oil- and gas-producing state's top legal officer, had pledged during his Senate confirmation that he would step aside from ongoing cases if the agency's ethics panel required it.

Environmental groups have contended that his litigation as Oklahoma attorney general may have been influenced by energy companies and industry groups that contributed to his election campaigns.

"This recusal statement addresses all of my ethics obligations," Pruitt said in the four-page statement, which was dated May 4. It was first reported by the E&E News website, which obtained the statement under the Freedom of Information Act.