Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

US EPA chief Pruitt asked for 24/7 security from Day One -watchdog

US EPA chief Pruitt asked for 24/7 security from Day One -watchdog US EPA chief Pruitt asked for 24/7 security from Day One -watchdog
Melinda Barton | 16 May, 2018, 21:39

Embattled Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said he doesn't remember asking his security detail to use lights and sirens to speed his government-owned SUV through Washington traffic, even as Democratic senators disclosed an internal email saying he did.

Udall, describing Pruitt's management of the agency as "disastrous", again called on Pruitt to resign.

Pruitt is scheduled to appear before the 13-member Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies on Wednesday morning regarding the EPA's 2019 budget - which Trump has proposed to cut by a fourth.

Tom Udall of New Mexico, the top Democrat on a Senate appropriations subcommittee that questioned Pruitt on Wednesday, the EPA chief denied making the request. That's not to mention Pruitt's pricey private flight habit and $43,000 soundproof phone booth, all on the taxpayer dime. Thomas R. Carper (Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), in which then-EPA special agent Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta informed colleagues that the "Administrator encourages the use" of lights and sirens. "I'm reading about your interactions with representatives of the industries that you regulate" Murkowski told Pruitt at a hearing normally expected to focus on budget matters. Pruitt says, "I don't recall that happening".

In his testimony before the panel, Pruitt said he would not accept contributions to his legal defense fund from lobbyists or businesses who have business before his agency.

"Unfortunately, I am concerned that numerous important policy efforts you are engaged in are being overshadowed", she said.

"As you know, the right answer is 'yes, '" Udall said.

A letter from the agency's inspector general also contradicted Pruitt and the EPA's claim that the need for a 24/7 security detail was a response to an assessment of death threats against him.

Several Democrats on the subcommittee, including Senator Diane Feinstein and Senator Patrick Leahy, have called for Pruitt's resignation.

"The public, media and Congressional reaction to these new numbers is going to be huge", said an unidentified Trump administration official in a message obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

Corn state senators like Iowa's Grassley have been infuriated by the EPA's decision to provide an unusually large number of waivers from the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to refineries in recent months, freeing them from their obligation to blend biofuels like ethanol into the nation's fuel.

"Unlike Scott Pruitt's Pollution Protection Agency, there is still one government agency clearly trying to safeguard the public from these unsafe chemicals", said EWG President Ken Cook.

Political appointees at the White House and Environmental Protection Agency worked to block the publication of a federal study that found unsafe levels of toxic chemicals in water supplies, according to a new report from Politico.

At one of the House hearings last month, Pruitt spoke broadly of taking responsibility for changes at his agency, and said he had "made changes" in his practice of first- and business-class travel.