Step one: cleanse the skin?
Leading the Environmental Protection Agency has traditionally been a low-profile job. But since former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt took office, he’s made headlines.
• His expenses included “unusually large spending on office furniture and first-class travel, as well as certain demands by Mr. Pruitt for security coverage, such as requests for a bulletproof vehicle and an expanded 20-person protective detail”. And EPA officials were sidelined after questioning Pruitt’s purchasing.
• He enlisted an EPA aide to help his wife find a job — with Chik-fil-A. Aides have also hunted for a used Trump hotel mattress, purchased his favorite protein bars and Greek yogurt, and fetched his favorite moisturizer, from the luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel. Federal laws prohibit public officials from using their office for private gain.
CNN reports that there are nearly a dozen ongoing reviews of Pruitt’s behavior.
More than 100 lawmakers have called for Pruitt to step down, including some Republicans. However, President Trump has continued to praise his performance, saying on June 8 that “Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA.” Though Trump also said he was not suggesting Pruitt was “blameless.”
But the headlines about his personal life and expenses have overshadowed Pruitt’s actions as head of the EPA.
• The EPA is “scaling back” the way the federal government determines health and safety risks regarding dangerous chemicals. “The approach means that the improper disposal of chemicals — leading to the contamination of drinking water, for instance — will often not be a factor in deciding whether to restrict or ban them,” The New York Times reports.
• The agency has reexamined the way it evaluates the danger posed by asbestos. New deregulation efforts mean that asbestos used in tiles, piping and adhesives throughout homes and businesses in the United States will remain largely unaccounted for and unchecked, according to Newsweek.
In total, the administration launched 16 deregulatory actions in 2017.
Federal deregulation can be slow going, and a lot of these efforts are still processing. But will the path continue under Pruitt, and will any of the agency’s actions get as much attention as Pruitt’s spending?
- Amy Harder Reporter covering energy and climate, Axios; former reporter, The Wall Street Journal; @AmyAHarder
- John Walke Director, the Clean Air Project, and senior attorney, the Natural Resources Defense Council; former EPA lawyer;@jwalke
- Myron Ebell Director, center for energy and environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute; Trump transition team leader for the EPA; @myronebell
- Congressman Jamie Raskin U.S. Representative, Maryland's 8th congressional district; @repraskin
- Dewey Bartlett Jr. Former mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma; president, Keener Oil & Gas Co.
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Preet Bharara is the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.