March 21, 2018
By Bess Levin –
Back in February, we learned that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt had racked up thousands of dollars in business and first-class airfare because flying coach posed too much of a security risk. “We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” Pruitt explained, and thanks to an “incident” wherein someone reportedly approached him at the airport and yelled “Scott Pruitt, you’re fucking up the environment” (a completely factual statement), his security team decided that, for his safety, it would be much better for him to sit in the section of the plane where the beds lay flat. Now that Representative Trey Gowdy has gotten his hands on the E.P.A.’s travel records, we’ve been treated to a closer look at exactly what sort of business Pruitt was conducting that cost taxpayers over $105,000, a figure that reportedly does not include the $58,000 he spent on charter flights and military jets.
In addition to various trips to announce rollbacks of Obama-era rules preventing the environment from being treated like a urinal, Pruitt apparently spared no expense meeting with industry executives, who were presumably giddy about coming face-to-face with the guy who’s made their wildest dreams come true. To address the Texas Oil & Gas Association in October before making media stops in Nebraska, Pruitt spent $3,610 on first-class flights. That same month, he invoiced taxpayers $2,265 for a first-class trip to New Orleans to speak to the Louisiana Chemical Association. In November, a trip to Chicago to chat with the Society of Industrial Gasoline Marketers cost $1,172. The following day, a jaunt to Charleston, South Carolina, for a meet-and-greet with the American Chemistry Council weighed in at $3,155. There was also, naturally, a four-day trip to Morocco in December to promote U.S. natural-gas exports that set taxpayers back $17,631. (Incidentally, The New York Times notes that “the E.P.A. does not oversee natural-gas exports.” But hey, who would pass up a trip to Morocco, all-expenses paid?)
In a statement, E.P.A. spokesman Jahan Wilcox reiterated that Pruitt absolutely must fly in the part of the plane where the booze is on the house because “E.P.A.’s Protective Service Detail identified specific ongoing threats associated with Administrator Pruitt’s travel and shifted his class based on certain security protocols that require him to be near the front of the plane.”