Pruitt used Black Hawk helicopter to visit coal mine: report
© Greg Nash

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies EPA rule proposes to expand limitations on scientific studies Overnight Energy: Fight between EPA watchdog, agency lawyers heats up | Top EPA official under investigation over document destruction | DOJ issues subpoenas to automakers in California emissions pact MORE used a Black Hawk helicopter to visit an Indiana coal mine last year, according to newly released EPA records highlighted by The New Republic.

Pruitt flew with aides and staffers for Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) in the tactical transport helicopter to Booneville, Indiana's Liberty coal mine last August, according to the report.

Once there, he discussed "methods to improve environmental conditions, while also safeguarding critical coal mining jobs," according to an EPA press release that did not mention the use of the Black Hawk helicopter.

It's not clear how much the use of the Black Hawk cost.

The New Republic noted examples in which politicians have used the helicopters to visit disaster areas or even sporting events when their use has been to show off military strength.

Pruitt's use of the helicopter was discovered in documents obtained by the Sierra Club via a Freedom of Information Act request.

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The administrator discussed the travel plans in an email thread entitled “Blackhawk Travelers.” 

While the EPA has not responded to requests into the cost or purpose of the trip, the director of the state's National Guard, which owns the helicopter used by Pruitt, told The New Republic that the military helicopter is never used for unserious purposes. 

The trip, a stop on Pruitt's "State Action Tour" around the country, is the latest in a series of ethics controversies surrounding the administrator, including millions of taxpayer dollars spent on first-class travel. Pruitt cited safety concerns as the reason for his expensive travel.

The Sierra Club and a coalition of other environmental groups are now spearheading an ad campaign to force Pruitt to resign over what they call a "reckless" anti-environmental deregulatory agenda.