EPA Administrator announces roll backs of Obama-era emission standards

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at a news conference at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on Tuesday

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at a news conference at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington on Tuesday

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt announced that he will authorize new revisions to fuel emissions standards for automakers.

President Donald Trump offered a measured gesture of support for the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, but those words of encouragement for Scott Pruitt also came with a White House warning about the ethical questions surrounding his travel spending and ties to Washington lobbyists.

Responding to reports about Pruitt's shaky footing with the President, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement, "From advocating to leave the Paris Accord, working to repeal Obama's Clean Power Plan and WOTUS, and cleaning up toxic Superfund sites that have been languishing for decades, Administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump's agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship". Trump and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly phoned Pruitt this week to say they support him, an administration source said on Tuesday.

"No one in America is eager to buy a vehicle that gets worse gas mileage and spews more pollution from its tailpipe", said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. Pruitt has spent the majority of his tenure meeting with industry executives, a fact that was driven home last week when we learned that Pruitt is quite literally in bed with special interests in that he regularly bunks in a lobbyist's Washington townhouse-located in a neighborhood where other units have rented for $5,000 a month-for just 50 bucks a night. Pruitt leased a room for roughly $50 a night, paying a total of $6,100.

An EPA ethics adviser said the rental arrangement met federal guidelines and didn't violate a gift ban. It is owned by Vicki Hart and her husband J. Steven Hart, a D.C. lobbyist who represents major energy companies, according to Bloomberg. EPA also granted a favourable ruling to a pipeline company also represented by Hart's firm.

Pruitt's "corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers", Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican from Florida, said in a post on Twitter Tuesday. "It's time for him to resign or for @POTUS to dismiss him", he said. On Tuesday, Democrats in the Senate and House also joined watchdog groups in asking the EPA's inspector general to scrutinize the rental arrangement. Ted W. Lieu of California and Don Beyer of Virginia wrote in a letter to the inspector general released Tuesday. (It seems he's clung on this long in part because he's done such a good job gutting Obama-era regulations.) And if the Times headline wasn't enough to spur Kelly to action, The Washington Post reported on Monday that Pruitt's staff explored the idea of leasing a private jet to accommodate his "travel needs" (the idea was scrapped after estimates came in at roughly $100,000 a month), while The Atlantic revealed that Pruitt himself bypassed the White House to give two of his closest aides huge raises previous year.

Curbelo has frequently clashed with Pruitt, other Trump administration officials and the president himself.

"If he doesn't weather this", McKenna said, "no one is ever going to take another job in Washington".

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