What to know about the controversies surrounding former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt

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Thursday, July 5, 2018
Scott Pruitt: Controversies surrounding the EPA administrator
Here's a look at some of the controversies surrounding former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump says he has accepted the resignation of embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Pruitt has faced an array of ethical questions about his travel spending, security costs, dealings with industry lobbyists and misuse of government resources.

Here's what you should know about Pruitt's background and some of his notable controversies:

  • Throughout his career, Pruitt has been a reliable booster of the fossil fuel industry and an outspoken critic of what he derides as the EPA's "activist agenda." His appointment as EPA administrator was decried by environmental advocates yet lauded by the oil and gas industry.
  • He has publicly cast doubt on the scientific community's consensus that the Earth is warming and that man-made carbon emissions are to blame. In an opinion article published by National Review, Pruitt suggested that the debate over global warming "is far from settled" and claimed "scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind."
  • Before being appointed to head the EPA, Pruitt served as Oklahoma's attorney general. In that position, he repeatedly sued the EPA to roll back environmental regulations and public health protections.
  • Pruitt has been scrutinized for his use of a Capitol Hill condominium owned by the wife of prominent Washington lobbyist Steven Hart, whose firm represents fossil fuel companies. He was charged $50 per night when he stayed in the condo, amounting to about $1,000 per month. A two-bedroom townhome on the same block as the one leased by Pruitt was advertised for rent at $3,750 a month. Records show that while Pruitt was living in the condo, he met in his EPA office with a lobbyist from Hart's firm and two executives from an energy company seeking to scuttle tighter pollution standards for coal-fired power plants.An agency ethics official at the EPA has insisted that Pruitt's lease didn't violate federal ethics rules.
  • Rep. Betty McCollum has questioned whether or not the federal government should have paid to replace a door Pruitt's security detail broke down at that condo when they could not reach him in 2017. Law enforcement broke down the door only to find Pruitt taking a nap inside, ABC News reported. The repairs cost $2,460, according to sources familiar with the payment EPA later made to a Capitol Hill condo association.
  • On April 3, The Atlantic reported that Pruitt had also bypassed the White House to give big raises to two young aides he had brought with him to EPA from Oklahoma. After failing to win approval from the West Wing, Pruitt used a little-known legal maneuver to push the 53 percent and 33 percent pay increases through.

Pruitt had denied wrongdoing in the face of multiple congressional and oversight inquiries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.