EPA backtracks on claim that Pruitt has ‘blanket waiver’ to fly first-class whenever he wants

EPA backtracks on claim that Pruitt has ‘blanket waiver’ to fly first-class whenever he wants
© Greg Nash

The Environmental Protection Agency retracted its claim on Wednesday that Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittHillicon Valley: Facebook, Google struggle to block terrorist content | Cambridge Analytica declares bankruptcy in US | Company exposed phone location data | Apple starts paying back taxes to Ireland Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus Six steps Pruitt must take on his legal defense fund to avoid another scandal MORE has a "blanket waiver" to fly first class on flights whenever he wants. 

The EPA originally said that Pruitt had obtained a waiver of federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights with taxpayer funds.

"As such, for every trip Administrator Pruitt submits a waiver to fly in either first or business class," an EPA spokesman said on Wednesday. 

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But the spokesman originally said on Tuesday that Pruitt had been granted more leeway in flying business class or first class — an exception that doesn't exist in federal rules. 

The agency changed the statement after garnering criticism from lawmakers from both parties. 

CBS News reported earlier this week that Pruitt took a high-end Emirates business class seat in June 2017 on a flight back from Italy, obtaining a waiver to rules that require official travel to be on United States-flagged airlines.

He flew first class again Tuesday to Boston. He told the New Hampshire Union Leader that his security detail dictated his travel choices, and he did not have a role in the decisionmaking process.

“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” Pruitt told the newspaper.

“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.”