Trump's EPA head is regularly meeting with energy executives

Scott Pruitt has also spent a lot of energy going to his home state at taxpayer expense

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 3, 2017 8:53AM (EDT)

 (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, has apparently spent nearly every day of his tenure meeting with corporate leaders from the industries he's supposed to regulate.

These have included meetings with the board of directors of the coal-mining company Alliance Resource Partners, a coal-burning electric utility known as Southern Company, and executives and lobbyists from General Motors, according to The New York Times.

In an emailed statement to the Times, the EPA defended itself by saying that "as E.P.A. has been the poster child for regulatory overreach, the agency is now meeting with those ignored by the Obama administration."

By contrast, former EPA Administrator William K. Reilly (who worked under President George H. W. Bush) told the Times, "I would think he would feel a responsibility to bend over backward to show a sense of judicious impartiality."

Pruitt's questionable behavior has not been limited to simply meeting with the very businesses he's supposed to oversee. The Times also reported that Pruitt has used taxpayer money to visit his home state of Oklahoma, even though the trips only involved his official work in a minimal capacity. These included a $1,043 trip to Oklahoma on May 5 for a one-hour meeting with National Rural Water Association Chief Executive Sam Wade and a $2,122 trip to Oklahoma on May 19 for a three-hour tour of a chemical company.

Both trips are being examined by the EPA's inspector general.

Pruitt has also attracted scrutiny for ordering construction of a soundproof booth in his office. The booth will be constructed by Acoustical Solutions for $24,570 for the purpose of helping the EPA administrator communicate privately.

Despite spending this money on soundproof booths and personal trips, Pruitt has been a staunch advocate of slashing the EPA's budget to the bone and significantly reducing its regulatory powers.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Environmental Protection Agency Epa Scott Pruitt