Energy & Environment

Watchdog: EPA hasn’t provided ‘sufficient justification’ for decision not to recover Pruitt travel spending

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An internal watchdog said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t provided a good explanation for its decision not to recover travel expenses from former Administrator Scott Pruitt that were found to be improper. 

In a new update to a report from last year, the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) said the agency decided it won’t try to recoup the costs but “has not provided sufficient justification to support the basis of the determination, that is, evidence that a security risk existed at the time.”

A 2018 inspector general report found that Pruitt and his staff spent $123,942 on “excessive airfare expenses … without sufficient justification to support security concerns requiring the use of first- and business-class travel.” It recommended that the EPA demand reimbursement from Pruitt for his share of the expenses. 

Testifying before Congress this year, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said he did not know whether the agency had the authority to recover the money from Pruitt. 

“They didn’t specify what authority we would have to recoup that money,” Wheeler said of an OIG report. 

Wheeler became the head of the agency following Pruitt’s 2018 resignation. Pruitt left his post amid a number of ethics controversies, including his use of first-class travel for EPA related work.

Tags Andrew Wheeler Scott Pruitt

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