Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has taken at least four noncommercial and military flights since mid-February, costing taxpayers more than $58,000 to fly him to various parts of the country, according to records provided to a congressional oversight committee and obtained by The Washington Post.
“When the administrator travels, he takes commercial flights,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said Wednesday, explaining that the one charter flight and three government flights were due to particular circumstances.
The EPA provided documents that outlined how its Office of General Counsel had given legal authorization for each trip. “The administrator, and any Cabinet secretary, is the face of that agency. They’re very outward facing, and we have an obligation to get out throughout the country,” Bowman said.
The most expensive of the four trips came in early June, when Pruitt traveled from Andrews Air Force Base to Cincinnati to join President Trump as he pitched a plan to revamp U.S. infrastructure. From there, the administrator and several staff members continued on a military jet to John F. Kennedy airport in New York to catch a flight to Italy for an international meeting of environmental ministers. The cost of that flight was $36,068.50.
The EPA said in travel documents that the White House had approved the trip and that “no viable commercial flights” would have allowed Pruitt to make his plane to Italy, where he had “scheduled meetings with Vatican officials the next day.” His official calendar listed meetings with the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, and a roundtable discussion with the Italian Court of Appeals.
On July 27, records show, Pruitt and six staff members arranged a flight on a Department of Interior plane from Tulsa to the tiny outpost of Guymon, Okla., at a cost of $14,434.50. The EPA noted that “time constraints” on Pruitt’s schedule wouldn’t allow him to make the 10-hour round-trip drive. The purpose of the trip was to meet with landowners “whose farms have been affected” by a controversial rule regulating water bodies in the United States, according to the agency. Pruitt has initiated a process to withdraw the regulation, known as the Waters of the United States rule.
Bowman said that between 50 and 100 farmers and others from Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas attended the session in Guymon.
You can read the rest at the Washington Post.