Quantcast
Popular

EPA Head Scott Pruitt Has a 'Blanket Waiver' to Fly First Class

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has a "blanket waiver" to take taxpayer-funded first-class flights due to unspecified security reasons.

"Due to security concerns he has a blanket waiver to fly in first or business class," an EPA spokesman told CBS News. When he travels, the agency follows "the recommendations of security personnel."


The Washington Post reported earlier this week that during a two-week stretch in June, President Trump's EPA head racked up at least $90,000 in taxpayer-funded travel. One of Pruitt's short domestic trips from Washington, DC to New York was booked first class for $1,600—six times the amount spent on the two media aides who came along and sat in coach.

Pruitt regularly flies first class and brings his infamous 24/7 security detail along with him. While the costs of their travel have not been made available, their salaries alone cost at least $2 million per year. No other administrator has needed 'round-the-clock security but Pruitt has reportedly received more death threats than any other EPA chief.

Federal regulations call for government travelers to "consider the least expensive class of travel that meets their needs" but can use first class for security or medical reasons.

Meanwhile, President Trump's latest budget proposal would slash EPA funding to its lowest level since 1990. As House Democrats noted in a tweet, "The Trump administration wants to cut EPA's budget by 34 percent, including cuts to climate change initiatives and the Office of Science and Technology. But first-class flights apparently are a 'core activity' for Scott Pruitt."

Previous EPA administrators usually refrained from such premium bookings. Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana also questioned Pruitt's expensive flights.

"I'm sure there's some situations in terms of security where an upgrade may be appropriate," Kennedy told CBS News. "But I think as a general rule, except for the president and the VP or if you're paying for it yourself, you ought to fly coach."

Pruitt confirmed to the New Hampshire Union Leader that he flew first class from the Washington metro area to Boston to reach New Hampshire on Tuesday.

He explained that the waivers for the more expensive flights were the result of security concerns.

"Unfortunately ... we've had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe," he told the newspaper.

"We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment," Pruitt continued. "We've reached the point where there's not much civility in the marketplace and it's created, you know, it's created some issues and the (security) detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat."

"I'm not involved in any of those decisions" to fly first class, he said. "Those are all made by the (security) detail."

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Food
Pixabay

What All Parents Need to Know About Pesticides in Produce

By Robert Coleman

Every spring the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases our Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™. The guide can be used by anyone trying to avoid pesticides, but it's especially important for parents to limit their children's exposures to these toxic chemicals.

Keep reading... Show less
Pexels

Vegan Coffee Creamers for the Perfect Morning Cup

When it comes to coffee and tea creamers, you may have to try a few before you find the perfect one for you. Some are creamier, some are sweeter, but there's something that all the best ones have in common: They don't harm cows by using their milk. Even if creamers tout a "dairy-free" label, you may find milk derivatives such as casein in the ingredients. Thankfully, there are so many delicious vegan creamers to choose from, and they're widely available in most grocery stores.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Alessio Viora / Marine Photobank

A Single Discarded Fishing Net Can Keep Killing for Centuries

By Jason Bittel

Divers off the coast of the Cayman Islands last month came face to face with a ghoulish sight: a gigantic mass of abandoned fishing gear and its catch. The monstrous net, as wide and deep as the Hollywood sign is tall, drifted just below the water's surface with tendrils that teemed with hundreds of dead and dying fish and sharks.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Food
Pxhere

17 Organizations Feeding and Healing the World Through Regenerative Agriculture

By Eva Perroni

Transitioning to more sustainable forms of agriculture remains critical, as many current agriculture practices have serious consequences including deforestation and soil degradation. But despite agriculture's enormous potential to hurt the environment, it also has enormous potential to heal it. Realizing this, many organizations are promoting regenerative agriculture as a way to not just grow food but to progressively improve ecosystems.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
A pair of Genusee glasses and a Flint-sewn polish bag. Genusee

Michigan Native Develops Visionary Solution for Flint’s Plastic Bottle Problem

When Detroit-area native Ali Rose VanOverBeke came back home in 2016 to volunteer with the Red Cross at the height of the Flint, Michigan water crisis, she probably didn't expect to get a business idea with the potential to change both her and Flint's future.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
TAFE SA TONSLEY/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Scientists Hit Back: Another Paper Claims 100% Renewables is Possible and Affordable

Is it possible for the world to run on 100 percent renewable energy? It's a noble goal, as the best science tells us we must significantly slash fossil fuel consumption or else the planet faces dangerous climate change.

A number of academics believe it's not only feasible to wean off coal, natural gas and other polluting fuels by transitioning to renewable sources such as solar and wind power, it's even cost-effective.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
White-banded swallows in Yasuni National Park, which has largely escaped human pressures. Geoff Gallice from Gainesville / CC BY 2.0

One-Third of Protected Areas 'Highly Degraded' By Humans, Study Finds

A study published in Science Friday presents what authors call a sobering "reality check" on global efforts to protect biodiversity—one third of all conservation areas set aside as wildlife sanctuaries or national parks are "highly degraded" by human activities.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!