PRUITT'S CONSERVATIVE FIREWALL CRACKS: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittUnderstanding the barriers between scientists, the public and the truth Overnight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Trump-era EPA board member sues over firing MORE is facing new criticism from conservative allies over his spending and ethics scandals.
Conservative commentator Laura Ingraham said Wednesday President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE should fire Pruitt, while Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Okla.) said Pruitt may need to step down.
The developments came the day that The Washington Post reported that Pruitt enlisted an aide and GOP donors to help his wife, Marlyn, get a job, and that she ended up getting a temporary position with the Judicial Crisis Network.
The reporting adds to recent allegations that Pruitt used his position or resources for personal gain, including trying to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise and having his security detail travel to multiple Ritz-Carlton hotels to find a lotion he wanted.
In response to the Post's story, Ingraham tweeted "PRUITT BAD JUDGMENT HURTING @POTUS, GOTTA GO."
She expanded slightly on her thoughts later Wednesday on her radio show.
"It just doesn't look good," Ingraham told Inhofe, referring specifically to his use of taxpayer money.
"If you want to drain the swamp, you've got to have people in it who forego personal benefits, and don't send your aides around doing personal errands on the taxpayer dime. Otherwise, you make everybody else look bad."
Inhofe, who has known Pruitt for years and is considered one of his closest allies in Congress, unexpectedly agreed.
"I see these things, they upset me as much as they upset you," Inhofe said. "And I think something needs to happen to change that. One of those alternatives would be for him to leave that job."
He continued, "I'm afraid my good friend Scott Pruitt has done some things that really surprised me. And I'm the one to say this because frankly he's a good friend of mine. But all these things that are coming out are really not good things."
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RIGHT-WING GROUP CALLS FOR PRUITT'S OUSTER: Elsewhere in conservative political circles, the right-wing American Future Fund is out with new television ads calling on Trump to fire Pruitt.
"EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is embarrassing President Trump," the voiceover says before running through some of Pruitt's recent high-profile scandals, like spending $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office and giving big raises to close aides by bypassing the White House.
"Mr. President, you know what to do," the voiceover says, cutting to a clip of Trump from "The Apprentice" saying "You're fired!"
"For the good of the country, Pruitt must go," the spot concludes.
The group's leader said Trump needs to show the country that using public resources for private gain is unacceptable.
"President Trump needs to make an example out of Pruitt and show that this administration will not tolerate rampant abuse of taxpayer dollars," AFF founder Nick Ryan said in a statement. "He is best known for using his office to enrich his wife, buy engraved keepsakes and direct federal guards to help find his favorite moisturizer. He's the head of the EPA, not the Sultan of Brunei."
COURTS DEAL BLOW TO EPA OVER CLEAN AIR ACT: Two separate courts ruled this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must enforce regulations that restrict states from emitting pollution that could cross borders into neighboring states.
U.S. district courts in Maryland and New York both ruled separately that EPA was derelict in its duty by not enforcing states to comply with the "Good Neighbor provision" under the Clean Air Act meant to address smog pollution.
The New York court found that EPA failed to meet an August 2017 deadline that would begin the process of enforcing the law throughout states. The court's judge ruled that EPA must take necessary steps to limit the smog that blows into New York and Connecticut from five surrounding states: Illinois, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan and Virginia.
"The court notes that it does not grant the above extension lightly," Maryland's district court wrote in its verdict. "On the contrary, the court is troubled by EPA's apparent unwillingness or inability to comply with its mandatory statutory duties within the timeline set by Congress."
An EPA spokesperson said the agency plans to propose a new action that will address the good neighbor policies in CAA by the end of the month.
The court set a Dec. 8 deadline for compliance.
"There is no reason why the EPA should not be required to follow the typical practice here, especially when they agreed it is feasible for them to do so," the court wrote in its determination. "Given the prior violations of the statutory deadline by EPA, it is a reasonable exercise of the court's equitable powers to require the EPA to do the minimal tasks it has agreed it can do to remedy its past violation of the statute."
In Maryland, a similar verdict found that EPA must take a final action by Sept 15.
MORE PRUITT... CORN GROUPS PUSH BACK ON ETHANOL: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt got an earful from corn growers and ethanol producers during his visit to Kansas on Tuesday.
Pruitt, a key figure in ongoing debate between the ethanol and natural gas industry over the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), faced strong criticism during a roundtable at the East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC ethanol plant in Garnett, Kan., attendees said.
Kansas Corn Growers Association President Ken McCauley said farmers at the meeting worked to clearly voice to Pruitt their frustration with any Trump administration proposal that would lower the RFS and allow oil and gas companies to sell fuel with a lower percentage of ethanol.
"When you look at what EPA is doing, they are most definitely picking winners and losers and right now, ethanol is the loser," McCauley said in a statement Wednesday.
"Our concern was that Administrator Pruitt thought he could come to Kansas, take a few photos with smiling farmers and tell the President that corn farmers are okay with his actions. That would be a gross misinterpretation of what happened here today."
McCauley added that farmers told Pruitt they were "mad as hell."
The EPA promoted the meetings in Kansas on social media, calling them informative and productive.
ON TAP THURSDAY:
The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Enhancing State Management of Federal Lands and Waters Act, which would, among other things, punish states that seek to block offshore drilling off their costs.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee's environment subcommittee will hold a hearing on implementation of The Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards Program.
OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY:
A southwestern Colorado wildfire has grown to more than 27,000 acres, the Denver Post reports.
The company behind the Rover Pipeline has agreed to pay $430,000 to settle water pollution claims in West Virginia, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reports.
Michigan's legislature passed a bill that would create a private industry panel in the Department of Environmental Quality to weigh in on regulations, the Associated Press reports.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
Check out Wednesday's stories ...
-GOP senator floats Pruitt's resignation
-Courts deal blow to EPA over Clean Air Act
-Antarctic ice melting at accelerated pace, study finds
-Republicans propose penalties for states that oppose offshore drilling
-Pruitt faces resistance from ethanol groups during midwest trips
-GAO to look into Trump's reduction of carbon social costs
-Conservative group launches ad calling on Trump to fire Pruitt
-Fox's Ingraham calls for Trump to fire Pruitt: 'GOTTA GO'
-Pruitt had aide, GOP donors help wife find job: report
-Trump taps Hill veteran for White House environment job