Pruitt diverts EPA agents to protect him 24/7, instead of protecting YOU from pollution
Back in May, Coral Davenport and Eric Lipton at the New York Times reported how Environmental Protection Agency-hating EPA chief Scott Pruitt was instilling a sense of paranoia in the agency’s offices. Among other things, they wrote that he required round-the-clock bodyguards to accompany him even when he was at EPA headquarters. Pruitt is the first chief in the EPA’s 47-year history to order bodyguards 24 hours a day.
The agency response?
“None of this is true. It’s all rumors. […] It’s very disappointing, yet not surprising, to learn that you would solicit leaks, and collude with union officials in an effort to distract from the work we are doing to implement the president’s agenda.”
Turns out—surprise!—that it’s not only true, but it also mucks up the core mission of the agency that Pruitt has said he wants the EPA to return to. Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis at The Washington Post report Wednesday:
Scott Pruitt’s round-the-clock personal security detail, which demands triple the manpower of his predecessors at the Environmental Protection Agency, has prompted officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes.
The EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has summoned agents from various cities to serve two-week stints helping guard Pruitt in recent months. And while hiring in many departments is frozen, the agency has sought an exception to hire additional full-time staff to protect Pruitt.
If Pruitt were in the private sector and pushed through cuts like that, he would, of course, get a fat bonus at the end of the year, increased compensation and praise for his impact on “the bottom line.”
But even for a Congress dominated by extremist Republicans, such a cut was too much. The House of Representatives has passed a much smaller EPA cut for the 2018 fiscal year, reducing its budget to $7.5 billion, $1.9 billion more than the Trump regime asked for. The final federal budget won’t be approved until December, if then, but if it is passed, the EPA budget would come in at the same level as in 2008. When inflation is figured in, however, the cut provides the agency with a budget that has 15 percent less purchasing power than a decade ago.
This comes at a time when the EPA needs to have more staff on the ground, particularly more enforcement and investigative staff. But that interferes with Scott Pruitt’s objective, which is to gut the EPA and meddle with its science-based approach to environmental protection. Perhaps he will find a way to divert even more of the current staff assigned to those tasks by making sure his deputies get round-the-clock protection, too.
(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)