Pruitt asked for 24/7 security immediately, despite claims

Scott Pruitt head of the Environmental Protection Agency

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said after the hearing that he was concerned Pruitt's legal defense fund would become a "potential snake pit for conflicts of interest". And Pruitt has maintained that he left decisions about the size of his security detail, as well as related decisions such as traveling first class for safety, to Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, the special agent in charge of protecting him. Ranking member Tom Udall (D-N.M.) is the measure's lead sponsor.

Most of the committee's six Democratic members have vehemently opposed Pruitt's efforts to roll back climate and pollution regulations introduced under Democratic former President Barack Obama, and have seized on the controversies around Pruitt's conduct to call for his resignation.

"No, I don't recall that happening", Pruitt said.

Udall is citing an email written by EPA's security chief saying Pruitt "encourages the use" of emergency lights.

Pruitt has faced a steady trickle of revelations involving pricey trips in first-class seats and unusual security spending, including a $43,000 soundproof booth for making private phone calls.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski - chair of the Appropriations subcommittee - said in her opening remarks that she welcomed some of Pruitt's regulatory agenda but the ethics issues were a distraction.

"I am concerned that numerous important policy efforts that you are engaged in are being overshadowed because of a series of issues related to you and your management of the agency", she said. She signaled she'll have questions for Pruitt on both policy and ethics.

Facing numerous allegations of ethical violations, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on Wednesday dodged tough questions about his travel practices, ties to lobbyists, unprecedented security detail and unapproved raises for top staff.

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Pruitt told the panel that he understood the concerns, but added that "some of the criticism is unfounded and exaggerated".

The senator has asked again whether Pruitt gave such an order.

Corn state senators like Iowa's Grassley have been infuriated by the EPA's decision to provide an unusually large number of waivers from the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to refineries in recent months, freeing them from their obligation to blend biofuels like ethanol into the nation's fuel.

Pruitt says his staff shouldn't have issued the tweet.

Just recently, it was revealed that Pruitt had demanded heightened security, lasting for 24 hours during all seven days of a week on his first day at the EPA in 2017. Under the Hatch Act, federal employees are banned from taking part in political activities.

The study would show that the chemicals - known as PFOA and PFOS - are risky to humans in much smaller quantities than the Environmental Protection Agency has previously said, Politico reported this week. "I was unaware of the tweet and that shouldn't have occurred".

That includes flying first class on commercial airliners.

Political appointees at the White House and Environmental Protection Agency worked to block the publication of a federal study that found risky levels of toxic chemicals in water supplies, according to a new report from Politico.

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