Washington Post: “On climate change, Pruitt shares Trump’s skepticism of mainstream science and has offered a reality-TV-style way to make their case: a televised show in which Pruitt would debate a climate scientist. In an effort to support Trump’s trade stance, he devised a plan to impose stricter fuel-efficiency standards on vehicles made by foreign automakers, even though White House lawyers argued it was illegal. And he has suggested he could take a leading role in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, on the grounds that he could strike a better deal with Mexico than the president’s current advisers.”
“Senior staff members at the Environmental Protection Agency frequently felt pressured by Scott Pruitt, the administrator, to help in personal matters and obtain special favors for his family, according to interviews with four current and former E.P.A. officials who served as top political aides to Mr. Pruitt,” the New York Times reports.
“The officials said that Mr. Pruitt, who ‘had a clear sense of entitlement,’ in the words of one of them, indicated that he expected staff members’ assistance with matters outside the purview of government.”
The aides said that Pruitt “told them that he expected a certain standard of living akin to wealthier Trump Cabinet members. The aides felt as if Mr. Pruitt—who is paid about $180,000 a year—saw them as foot soldiers in achieving that lifestyle.”
“Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, is expected on Friday to send President Trump a detailed legal proposal to dramatically scale back an Obama-era regulation on water pollution… It is widely expected to be one of his agency’s most significant regulatory rollback efforts,” the New York Times reports.
“And, as soon as Monday, the same official said, Mr. Pruitt is expected to publish another major change: his agency’s legal proposal to gut President Barack Obama’s rule to reduce climate-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes. That proposal risks triggering a court battle with California and raises the prospect that the American car market could be split in two, with different groups of states enforcing different pollution rules.”
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who has known EPA Administrator Pruitt for years and hails from the same state, told Laura Ingraham on her radio show that the endless scandals surrounding Pruitt may require him to step down.
Said Inhofe: “I see these things, they upset me as much as they upset you. And I think something needs to happen to change that. One of those alternatives would be for him to leave that job.”
EPA chief Scott Pruitt “last year had a top aide help contact Republican donors who might offer his wife a job, eventually securing her a position at a conservative political group that has backed him for years,” the Washington Post reports.
“The job hunt included Pruitt’s approaching wealthy party supporters and conservative figures with ties to the Trump administration. The individuals said he enlisted Samantha Dravis, then serving as associate administrator for the EPA’s Office of Policy, to line up work for his wife.”
Six House Democrats asked the FBI to launch a criminal investigation into EPA chief Scott Pruitt for reportedly using his office in a bid to secure work for his wife, the Washington Post reports.
In a letter, the lawmakers said Pruitt had used his office for “the personal gain of himself and his family, in violation of federal law.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “asked members of his 24/7 security detail to run errands for him on occasion, including picking up his dry cleaning and taking him in search of a favorite moisturizing lotion,” the Washington Post reports.
“Pruitt, who also has enlisted agency staffers in tasks including apartment hunting and securing a mattress for his personal use, faces congressional scrutiny over an expanding number of spending and management decisions. Federal rules bar public officials from receiving gifts from subordinates, including unpaid services, and from using their office for private gain.”
“Republicans on Capitol Hill are growing frustrated with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt — and many are now publicly questioning whether he can hang on to his job amid the unending stream of scandals,” Politico reports.
“Several GOP lawmakers said their patience was running thin after this week’s news that Pruitt sought to buy a used mattress from the Trump Hotel and inquired about securing a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife. And Pruitt’s circle of confidantes inside the agency appeared to be shrinking as well.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “used his official position and EPA staff” to help his wife open a Chick-fil-A franchise, the Washington Post reports.
“Pruitt’s efforts on his wife’s behalf — revealed in emails recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Sierra Club — did not end with Chick-fil-A. Pruitt also approached the chief executive of Concordia, a New York nonprofit organization. The executive, Matthew Swift, said he ultimately paid Marlyn Pruitt $2,000 plus travel expenses to help organize the group’s annual conference last September.”
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) blasted allegations of ethical misconduct by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, calling him “about as swampy as you get,” Bloomberg reports.
“Pruitt’s tenure at the Environmental Protection Agency is under intensifying scrutiny, with at least 10 federal investigations probing his $50-per-night rental of a bedroom in a Capitol Hill condominium from a lobbyist, his frequent taxpayer-funded travel and his spending decisions.”
Said Ernst: “He is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C., and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own cabinet.”
“In mid-September, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator’s director of scheduling and advance, Millan Hupp, reached out to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., with an unusual request. Hupp wanted to know how much the hotel would charge EPA chief Scott Pruitt for purchasing one of its used mattresses,” the Washington Post reports.
“The senior EPA official also scouted apartments for her boss in some of the District’s hippest neighborhoods, and helped arrange his family vacation to California over the New Year’s holiday so that the Pruitts could watch the Oklahoma Sooners play in the Rose Bowl.”
“An analysis by the Associated Press shows that nearly half the political appointees hired at EPA under President Donald Trump have industry ties. Of more than 60 EPA hires tracked by the AP over the last year, about one-third worked as registered lobbyists or lawyers for chemical manufacturers, fossil fuel producers or other EPA-regulated companies.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is barring The Associated Press, CNN and the environmental-focused news organization E&E from a national summit on harmful water contaminants, the AP reports.
“EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred.”
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) claimed in a congressional hearing that land erosion plays a more significant role in sea-level rise than climate change, Science Magazine reports.
“He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.”
Said Brooks: “Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up.”