Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Regulation: EPA sued over water rule delay | House passes bill to ease ObamaCare calorie rule | Regulators talk bitcoin | Patient groups oppose FDA ‘right to try’ bill Overnight Energy: US projected to be net energy exporter | Water rule lawsuits roll in | GOP chair challenges cancer agency over pesticides States, greens sue Trump over Obama EPA water rule delay MORE has a “blanket waiver” to federal standards that limit officials’ ability to book first-class flights on the taxpayer dime.
Citing “security threats” against Pruitt, an EPA spokesman said late Tuesday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump’s desire for military parade: ‘We have a Napoleon in the making’ MORE’s top environmental regulator has been granted more leeway in flying business class or first class.
The statement came amid new scrutiny into Pruitt’s travel expenses. The Washington Post reported Sunday that he frequently flies first class, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
CBS News reported late Tuesday that Pruitt flew the luxurious business class on Emirates in June 2017 on a flight back from Italy, obtaining a waiver to rules that require official travel to be on United States-flagged airlines.
He flew first class again Tuesday to Boston. He told the New Hampshire Union Leader that his security detail dictated his travel choices, and he played no role in the decisions.
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” Pruitt told the newspaper.
“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the [security] detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”
Government-wide rules severely limit the ability of any federal employee, including cabinet secretaries, to use federal money to buy first- or business-class tickets.
One caveat to those rules is for “exceptional security circumstances.”
The EPA spokesman did not provide details about Pruitt’s waiver nor who signed off on it.