Quantcast
Trump Watch

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
GMO
Activists campaigning to regulate glyphosate in the European Union. Avaaz / Flickr

Monsanto 'Commands' Civic Group to Turn in All Communications Over Glyphosate

Avaaz, a civic campaigning network that counts roughly 45 million subscribers around the world, has been served with a 168-page subpoena on behalf of agribusiness giant Monsanto.

The document, dated Jan. 26 and sent from New York Supreme Court, "commands" the U.S.-based organization to turn in a decade's worth of internal communications by Friday, Feb. 23.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
Radiation area from Horseshoe Mesa uranium mine tailings at Grand Canyon's South Rim. Al_HikesAZ / Flickr

Uranium Mining's Toxic Legacy: Why the U.S. Risks Repeating Mistakes

By Stephanie Malin

Uranium—the raw material for nuclear power and nuclear weapons—is having a moment in the spotlight.

Companies such as Energy Fuels, Inc. have played well-publicized roles in lobbying the Trump administration to reduce federal protection for public lands with uranium deposits. The Defense Department's Nuclear Posture Review calls for new weapons production to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal, which could spur new domestic uranium mining. And the Interior Department is advocating more domestic uranium production, along with other materials identified as "critical minerals."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
The Aldabra Atoll in the Seychelles. Simisa / Wikimedia Commons

Seychelles Creates Groundbreaking Marine Reserve With Help From Leonardo DiCaprio

The Seychelles has created two vast new marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean after a groundbreaking finance deal brokered by the Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders, including environmentalist and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio.

In exchange for writing off a portion of its debt, the island nation agreed to protect a total of 81,000-square-miles of ocean—that's about the size of Great Britain.

Keep reading... Show less
President Trump and French President Macron review troops during the Bastille Day parade last July.

There Are Better Things in France for Trump to Emulate Than a Military Parade

By Elliott Negin

President Trump was so impressed by the military parade he saw in Paris on Bastille Day last July that he ordered the Pentagon to plan a bigger one for Washington, DC.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Bears Ears National Monument. Gannon McGhee / Flickr

Rare Fossils Discovered on Lands Cut From Bears Ears National Monument

Researchers, led by paleontologist Rob Gay, have discovered what may be one of the world's richest caches of Triassic period fossils at an extensive site within the original boundaries of Bears Ears National Monument. The team's initial excavation led to the extraordinary discovery of several intact remains of crocodile-like animals called phytosaurs. The findings were publicly announced at this week's Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists (WAVP) annual conference where researchers warned of a growing threat to their work in the region.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
GE Renewable Energy

Nation's Largest Wind Farm Coming to Oklahoma

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection project, which includes a massive 800-turbine wind farm under construction in the Oklahoma panhandle, is getting closer to lift-off.

Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO), a subsidiary of major utility American Electric Power, announced this week a settlement with various parties, including Walmart, allowing the $4.5 billion project to move forward.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Marine litter on a remote stretch of coastline in Rekvik, Norway. Bo Eide / Flickr

Plastic Threatens to Swamp the Planet

By Paul Brown

A ubiquitous tide of plastic particles has now swept throughout the world's oceans.

The human rights activist Bianca Jagger described to a conference in London Tuesday how a substance that was invented only in 1907 and seemed to have almost magical properties, because it was practically indestructible, is now threatening an environmental catastrophe.

Keep reading... Show less

Beachgoers Use Endangered Shark Dragged From Water for Selfies

By Zachary Toliver

Sometimes humans forget that animals have feelings, too, and cause them to suffer. Just consider some Florida beachgoers who were filmed taking photos of and selfies with an injured hammerhead shark, who an expert says most likely died after the incident.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

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