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 PruittEnvironmentalists renew bid to overturn EPA policy barring scientists from advisory panels Six states sue EPA over pesticide tied to brain damage Overnight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules MORE’s frequent premium-class travel for official business.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneLawmakers call on Trump to keep tech legal shield out of trade talks Hillicon Valley: FTC fines Facebook B in privacy settlement | Critics pan settlement as weak | Facebook also faces FTC antitrust probe | Senate panel advances 'deepfakes' legislation | House passes anti-robocall bill House passes anti-robocall bill 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 TonkoHouse Democrats push automakers to rebuff Trump, join California's fuel efficiency deal Overnight Energy: Democrats seek help in appealing to conservatives on climate | Whistleblowers say Interior sidelined scientists | Automakers strike fuel efficiency deal with California in rebuff to Trump Interior whistleblowers say agency has sidelined scientists under Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGetteDiana Louise DeGetteHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Crucial for Congress to fund life-saving diabetes research Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — White House withdraws controversial rule to eliminate drug rebates | Grassley says deal on drug prices moving 'very soon' | Appeals court declines to halt Trump abortion referral ban 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.