EPA inspector general opens investigation of Pruitt's use of multiple email accounts

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior Environment and Related Agenci

Udall said Perrotta wrote in the email that Pruitt had encouraged the use of the devices.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2018.

Such decisions had made Pruitt and the EPA "a laughingstock", he added.

The panel's chairman, Republican Sen.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski - chair of the Appropriations subcommittee - said in her opening remarks that she welcomed some of Pruitt's regulatory agenda but the ethics issues were a distraction. "I'm being asked, really constantly asked, to comment on [your] security, housing and travel".

For his part, Pruitt took the same approach as he did in a pair of contentious House hearings last month, largely steering clear in his opening statement of addressing the dozen probes he is facing on topics such as the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office, a cut-rate condo rental from a lobbyist previous year and his domestic and global travel expenses.

Chuck Grassley warned Tuesday he may call on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign if his agency does not take a fairer approach to issuing waivers to the large refineries that allow them to skirt biofuels regulations.

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Protesters sitting behind Pruitt silently rose up twice in the first minutes of the hearing, once waving signs and once simply standing up in unison, wearing green T-shirts with slogans saying "Impeach Pruitt".

During hearings last month, Pruitt, who was confirmed February 17, 2017, justified his security spending by citing threats he had received since taking office.

"The public, media and Congressional reaction to these new numbers is going to be huge", said an unidentified Trump administration official in a message obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The Associated Press reported last month that Pruitt's preoccupation with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers, as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes. No EPA member received a 24-hour security detail that accompanied them everywhere before Pruitt. "I'm reading about your interactions with representatives of the industries that you regulate" instead of being asked about EPA policy actions, Alaska Sen.

Perrotta, who has been under scrutiny for the expenditures related to Pruitt's security and travel, retired from the agency late last month.

Pruitt repeated the claim that the extraordinary spending on his personal security was needed because the threats against him have been "unprecedented in terms of quantity and type". The seemingly unending stream of negative reports about Pruitt's behavior drew the ire of some GOP senators and even staff at the White House. "Nobody even knows who you are".

"We are making the tough decisions with respect to environmental protection, while at the same time restoring confidence in the American people that we can engage in regulations and not pick winners and losers, and not engage in coercion with our actions", Pruitt said.

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