Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class flights

Dems ask Pruitt to justify first-class flights
© Greg Nash

House Democrats are investigating Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog Is Big Oil feeling the heat? MORE’s frequent premium-class travel for official business.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson – House progressives may try to block vote on Pelosi drug bill | McConnell, Grassley at odds over Trump-backed drug pricing bill | Lawmakers close to deal on surprise medical bills Key negotiator says deal close on surprise medical bills legislation House Democrat presses Google executives for answers on handling of health data MORE (N.J.), top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Pruitt in a Tuesday letter for various details about all of the first- or business-class flights he has taken on taxpayer dime, the justifications for the flights and which staffers were involved in the process.

“Americans deserve an EPA Administrator more dedicated to first-class protection of human health and the environment than to luxury travel at taxpayer expense,” Pallone wrote along with Reps. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoDemocrats unveil first bill toward goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 House committee advances sweeping legislation to battle 'forever chemicals' Overnight Energy: Trump officials suspend oil, gas production on Utah plots after lawsuit | California bucks Trump on lightbulb rollback | Scientists join Dems in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule MORE (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteDemocrats request info on Google-Ascension partnership Trump health chief declines to detail ObamaCare replacement plan A dozen House Democrats call on EU ambassador to resign amid Ukraine scandal MORE (D-Colo.).

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“To date, your Agency has failed to provide a clear explanation as to whether your travel since becoming administrator complies with all applicable federal regulations and agency procedures,” they said.

The letter came after a week of intense scrutiny into Pruitt’s travel habits and news reports about his frequent first- and business-class flights, which have cost taxpayers thousands upon thousands of dollars.

Federal employees are normally limited to flying coach. But the EPA has justified the more expensive arrangements on security grounds, saying that Pruitt has had vulgar run-ins at airports, like a person yelling “you’re f--king up the environment.”

The EPA said at one point last week that Pruitt had a “blanket waiver” to federal rules regarding first-class flights. But such a waiver is prohibited, and the EPA later walked back the statement.