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Growing Scrutiny of Scott Pruitt’s EPA Travel Costs

While some don’t see Scott Pruitt’s EPA travel costs as scandalous as former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s were, Pruitt’s critics aren’t letting up in examining how the former Oklahoma Attorney General is running the Environmental Protection Agency.

Here is how Politico’s Morning Energy Report described the latest events that have Pruitt under more scrutiny

SCRUTINY MOUNTS OF PRUITT’S HABITS: Critics of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt increasingly see a chief who avoids contact with the broader public and distrusts even his own agency’s career staff, opting instead for meetings with like-minded industry and political leaders that could prove useful in a future political run, Pro’s Emily Holden and Alex Guillén report. The Trump administration doesn’t consider Pruitt’s $58,000 in charter and military flight expenses to be as troubling as former HHS Secretary Tom Price’s and now consider the controversy resolved after Price’s resignation last week, one administration official said.

Environmentalists and other critics say Pruitt’s spending is at best tone-deaf given agency budget reductions and at worst speaks to paranoia. Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican who ran EPA during President George W. Bush’s first term, said she recalls taking chartered planes only while visiting remote areas of Alaska that were otherwise inaccessible. “Most people have to wait in line for a long time for planes,” Whitman said. “The fact that you just turn around and order a private plane … that starts to look really problematic. It’s a lot of money.” The agency said the flights were all cleared by ethics officials and say Pruitt’s unprecedented around-the-clock security protection is necessary given increased threats.

Others point to who he met with as especially revealing. An analysis of Pruitt’s broader schedule shows he’s met most often with oil and gas executives, followed by agriculture and farming interests. And the former Oklahoma attorney general has paid especially close attention to his home state. Of at least 30 meetings or speaking engagements Pruitt had with oil and gas executives or trade groups, seven appear to have connections to Oklahoma. He’s also spoken at events or held calls with right-wing policy groups that spend little of their time on environmental issues, such as the Family Research Council, Council for National Policy, State Policy Network and Federalist Society.”