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 PruittEPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' Overnight Energy: Trump administration to repeal waterway protections| House votes to block drilling in Arctic refuge| Administration takes key step to open Alaskan refuge to drilling by end of year Trump administration to repeal waterway protections 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.”