Published: Wed, April 04, 2018
Medical | By Bryan Strickland

Pruitt announcing revisions in vehicle fuel emission standards

Pruitt announcing revisions in vehicle fuel emission standards

ABC News and Bloomberg News reported last week that in his first six months in Washington a year ago, Pruitt made a deal to pay about $50 a night - less than a third the price of similar properties - to rent a room in a Capitol Hill neighborhood condo building co-owned by energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife. But Pruitt, who is at the centre of swirling ethics questions over his travel spending and ties to Washington lobbyists, is not out of hot water yet.

A memo signed by Kevin Minoli contends that Pruitt's $50-a-night rental payments constitute a fair market rate. The White House has launched a formal inquiry into Pruitt's living situation when he first moved to Washington, D.C., last year.

"These roll-backs from Scott Pruitt mean Americans will pay more at the pump while our air gets dirtier, just so Pruitt can help the corporate lobbyists and polluters who give him favors and marching orders", stated Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director. According to Bloomberg, he paid more than $6,000.

Pruitt claims he rented only one room in the couple's two-bedroom condo.

To catch up (this is like a law exam to spot all the ethical violations): Pruitt may have improperly used Hupp to secure housing after vacating a condo rented under very favorable terms from the wife of a lobbyist - and then defied the White House by giving both Hupp and Greenwalt outsized (really, outsized) raises.

The unusual arrangement has attracted attention in Washington, where Pruitt has been under increasing scrutiny for this frequent taxpayer-funded travel, which has included first-class airline tickets.

"This whole thing has completely gutted any morale I had left to put up with this place", one EPA official told The Atlantic.

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Members of Congress have requested new investigations into the deal including whether ethics officials had all the information when they issued a statement that the deal did not violate the agency's gift rules because Pruitt paid market value for the room, even though he only paid $50 a night for nights that he stayed in the room.

"We stand ready to take legal action to block the Trump administration's reckless and illegal efforts to reverse these critical standards and the gains we've made in ensuring cars are more fuel-efficient and less polluting".

Shortly after Curbelo's statement was tweeted, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen told CNN she supports his message.

Records show the powerhouse lobbying firm where Hart serves as chairman and CEO, Williams and Jensen PLLC, represents companies that include Exxon Mobil and Cheniere Energy Inc.

Travel records obtained through a public records request showed that Pruitt spent more than $17,000 in taxpayer money for a December trip to Morocco to promote U.S. exports of LNG. Cheniere is now the only exporter of liquefied natural gas from the continental United States.

Several lawmakers called for Pruitt's resignation on Tuesday, including Republican Representatives Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Trump is said to be fond of Pruitt and has cheered his moves to rollback regulations and do battle with environmental groups.

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