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EPA chief must fly first class due to 'toxic environment politically'  5 Days ago

Source: USA Today  

EPA chief Scott Pruitt defended flying first class on the government tab by saying the "toxic environment politically" has led to uncomfortable interactions with travelers and security concerns.

“We’ve had some incidents on travel dating back to when I first started serving in the March-April timeframe,” Pruitt told the paper. “We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment."

Pruitt cited a lack of "civility" and said "the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”

Pruitt was not required to submit a request for the travel upgrade to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, despite a new policy enacted last year in the wake of a travel scandal involving Health Secretary Tom Price’s use of charter aircraft. Commercial air travel is exempt from that policy, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

“That wasn’t approved by the White House,” she said of Pruitt’s travel.

The costs come as hard financial times appear poised to befall the agency. President Trump's proposed budget calls for a cut of more than 20% in EPA spending.

The EPA says Pruitt's expenses have been approved by federal ethics officials.

Last week, Pruitt sparked controversy by asserting that global warming might be beneficial because "humans have most flourished" during warming trends. That drew fire from climate-change experts.

Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Penn State, called Pruitt's remark an example of the "stages of denial." 

"As the evidence becomes ever more compelling that climate change is real and human caused, the forces of denial turn to other specious argument, like 'it will be good for us,'" Mann said.

 

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