March 9, 2018

National, State and Local Groups Call on EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to Reimburse Taxpayers for His Costly and Unnecessary First-Class Travel

Immediate Action Needed to Restore Trust in EPA, Organizations Say

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National, state and local public interest groups today charged U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt with wasting taxpayer money and demanded he reimburse taxpayers for all first-class, business class or private aircraft travel expenses since he took office in February 2017.

In a letter (PDF) delivered to Pruitt today, the groups called for a full accounting of travel expenses incurred by Pruitt, and by his security and political entourage. If any of them took charter, first-class or business-class flights while traveling with Pruitt, those expenses should be reimbursed to taxpayers as well, the groups said. The groups also called on Pruitt to disclose all his travel records and expenses since July 2017, which have not yet been made public.

“Americans should have full confidence that their government officials are fiscally responsible with US tax dollars and trustworthy stewards of the law,” the groups say in their letter. “This waste of taxpayer funds is particularly tone deaf as you applaud President Trump’s proposed budget cuts that would cut your own agency’s funding by a third. These proposed cuts would gut staffing levels to record lows and slash funding for enforcement of existing laws, for critical state programs and for lifesaving standards for clean air and chemical safety.”

The groups added that Pruitt should reimburse the money to earn and restore Americans’ trust in the EPA. They point out that others in the Trump administration have been held accountable for misuse of taxpayer funds for travel and have been forced to reimburse taxpayers.

Former U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was forced to refund taxpayers for his extravagant and unethical travel expenditures, and ultimately resigned after the extent of his abuse was uncovered. Likewise, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was forced to reimburse taxpayers $4,000 for personal travel on their dime—an amount far less than Pruitt spent on just his trip to Italy.

Groups and individuals that signed on to the letter (PDF) to Pruitt:

Center for American Progress
Center for Biological Diversity
Defend Our Future
Franciscan Action Network
Friends of the Earth
Green Latinos
Hip Hop Caucus
Latino Victory Fund
League of Conservation Voters
Mi Familia Vota
National Council of EPA Locals #238, American Federation of Government Employees
National LGBTQ Task Force
Natural Resources Defense Council
NextGen America
Population Connection Action Fund
Public Citizen
Sierra Club

Environment Ohio
Green Country Sierra Club (Oklahoma)
Herd on the Hill (Washington, DC)
Nevada Conservation League
Sierra Club (Nevada)

Diesel Health Project (Kansas City, Kansas)
January Contreras (Candidate for Arizona Attorney General)