Trump Told EPA Chief Scott Pruitt 'We Have Your Back'

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is announcing the completion of the Midterm Evaluation (MTE) process for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025, and his final determination that, in light of recent data, the current standards are not appropriate and should be revised.

A top aide at the Environmental Protection Agency, who recently received a 33 percent raise from Administrator Scott Pruitt despite a lack of approval from the White House, helped shop for housing options for him and his wife a year ago, according to several individuals with knowledge of the matter.

Republicans and Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested information on Pruitt's housing situation.

According to these individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss personnel matters, Pruitt reappointed both staff members under the authority of the act.

Trump has not identified a replacement for Pruitt should he decide to fire him, multiple senior officials said, and he remains enthusiastic about the progress his EPA has made toward deregulation and environmental rollbacks.

The ethics official said the arrangement was consistent with federal ethics regulations because Pruitt paid "market value" for it. Another White House official said few people were coming to Pruitt's defense, the newspaper said, although there is no sign yet that his position is in jeopardy.

Pruitt's lease, however, required him to pay just for nights he occupied in the unit. A two bedroom townhome on the same block as the one leased by Pruitt was advertised for rent on Monday at $3,750 a month. And 12 other states, including New York, Pennsylvania and MA, follow California's lead on cleaner cars, meaning that for practical purposes that's the standard automakers have to follow.

Walter Shaub, who ran the U.S. Office of Government Ethics until previous year, rated EPA's legal justification of Pruitt's living arrangements as "Total Baloney". EPA also granted a favourable ruling to a pipeline company also represented by Hart's firm.

Whitehouse also asked the inspector general to probe whether Pruitt flew first class even when traveling on personal business - and if his bodyguards were seated there too. Spokeswoman Jennifer Kaplan said the watchdog office is evaluating the requests.

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. Though federal regulations typically require federal officials to fly in coach, the EPA chief has said he needed to sit in premium seats due to security concerns.

"I don't know how you survive this one", former New Jersey governor and ABC News contributor Chris Christie told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on This Week Sunday.

Sarah Greenwalt worked as Pruitt's general counsel when he served as attorney general in Oklahoma.

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

Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said Pruitt made the right decision and that the administration was working on a way to both increase fuel economy and "keep new vehicles affordable to more Americans".

  • Rogelio Becker