Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's Taste for Swampdweller Perks Is Distracting from His Deregulatory Agenda

Hated by activists, he should have known that he needed to be squeaky clean in his personal and professional life.



Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's taste for swampdweller perks is undermining his mission to rein in EPA regulatory overreach. Pruitt is under various investigations for installing an expensive soundproof telephone booth in his office; regularly traveling first class on airlines; being accompanied by a security detail even on personal trips; and renting a D.C. condo from a Washington lobbyist. He justified his first-class air travel and 24-7 security guards on the grounds that folks in coach would say rude things to him. Surely dedicated public servants like Pruitt must be protected against hearing unpleasant criticism from voters!

Hated as he is by progressives and environmental activists for his deregulatory views, Pruitt had to have known that he would be under the minutest of scrutiny; consequently he needed to be squeaky clean in his personal and professional life in order to effectively carry out a deregulation agenda.

Despite these personal screw-ups, Pruitt has been pursuing salutary attempts to rein in his agency. For example, Pruitt has launched a process that aims to reduce the reach and scope of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. Under the Obama administration, the agency claimed that it had authority to regulate non-navigable upstream water sources like farm ponds and intermittent streams since they could carry pollution down to navigable waters like lakes and rivers. These new rules brought nearly half of Alaska and a total area in the lower 48 states equivalent to the size of California under the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction.

Earlier this week, Pruitt announced that the EPA would no longer use "secret science" in formulating its regulations. The new rule will "ensure that the regulatory science underlying Agency actions is fully transparent, and that underlying scientific information is publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent validation," according to the EPA press release. The EPA release further noted:

This proposed rule is in line with the scientific community's moves toward increased data sharing to address the "replication crisis"—a growing recognition that a significant proportion of published research may not be reproducible. The proposal is consistent with data access requirements for major scientific journals like Science, Nature, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as well as recommendations from the Bipartisan Policy Center's Science for Policy Project and the Administrative Conference of the United States' Science in the Administrative Process Project.

Environmental activists fear that the new rule would disallow studies that could be used to promulgate regulations that aim to protect the public health from real pollution dangers. For example, the Washington Post reports:

Gretchen Goldman, an expert on air pollution and the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said of the move by Pruitt and his allies: "The goal was always to stave off science-based policies, not to promote transparency. What they're doing now is couching that language in ways to confuse the public and make this sound innocuous."

Perhaps. But as I reported earlier on a congressional bill that sought to mandate greater transparency with regard to regulatory science:

I do not doubt the cynical motives of some supporters of this bill, but I also do not doubt the equally cynical motives of its opponents. [Some opponents are] right that some good studies that use confidential information might be excluded. The solution, however, is to spend more time devising study protocols that do not rely on confidential information. One should keep in mind just how shockingly bad a lot of epidemiology studies are and how lax peer review is. Which then brings up the question: Is regulatory science an oxymoron?

In any case, shame, shame on Pruitt for letting his taste for taxpayer-financed luxury distract him, Congress and the public from the important agenda of cutting back on costly and unnecessary EPA regulations.

NEXT: Beset By Homelessness, Rising Rents, Nightmarish Traffic, San Francisco Cracks Down on Dockless Scooters

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Ron,

    If you want to write an article complaining about Pruit’s spending, write it. But to put it in as a “yeah but” in an article praising the new rule just makes it looks like you are incapable of giving unqualified support for anything Pruit does. The headline of this article has nothing to do with the content. This article is about the debate over the rule. Pruit’s spending on his office has nothing to do with that. Moreover, if your complaint is that it distracts from his accomplishments, why are you contributing to that by inserting the issue into this?

    1. J: I dislike “public servants” who abuse their offices for personal gain, even if they are doing lots of things with which I agree. Nothing wrong in pointing that out.

      1. Ron, not sure how a soundproof telephone booth in his office is fleecing the taxpayer for personal gain but whatever keeps the hope alive. I don’t he needs a soundproof phone booth but only the president can boss an agency director around. Even Congress can only suggest he stop wasting taxpayer money. Congress is in no position to get on a director about possibly wasting taxpayer money when Congress definitely wastes taxpayer money.

        Should all government agencies cut their spending? Absolutely.
        Should the media question all government employees about their spending and hold their feet to the fire? Absolutely.

        Obama going all the way to Hawaii to golf with a full Secret Service detail, is clearly personal but we tolerate it because presidents need a vacation too. Presidents just cost a lot to protect.

        I could tell you stories of military officers that waste massive amounts of taxpayer money because they feel like they are entitled to “perks” of being senior military officers. Aircraft carriers have flag quarters just in case an admiral decides to visit the ship. Rarely hear a peep on that stuff.

      2. Ron,

        How about an article comparing money saved/created/lost through regulatory reform vs money wasted on specious personal/official spending by Pruitt?
        You know, maybe for perspective.
        It would be far more interesting than your “private” sector solutions to the pyramid scheme known as climate change – especially when the “private” sector solutions you praise will require loads of public funding and control, while possessing the goal of initiating an artificial ice age.
        Buy what do I know, I’m not the one getting paid to write progressive nonsense

        1. Give me a fucking break people.

          Just imagine he had a (D) after his name. Why is this so difficult? Pruitt is an absurdity. Surely you can see that.

          1. Break yo’self, fool!

            If he had a D after his name, reducing regulation and increasing transparency would not be an issue. Because it wouldn’t be happening. Because the inverse would.

      3. What about abusing their orifices?

    2. John, are you new here?

    3. Start winning $90/hourly to work online from your home for couple of hours consistently… Get standard portion on seven days after week start… All you require is a PC, web affiliation and a litte additional time…

      Read more here……..

  2. I don’t blame Scott Pruitt for feeling a legitimate need to fly in first and have personal security when traveling. There have been numerous expressions of the desire and the intent to do violence upon the guy on Twitter, Facebook, etc. In normal times, these could be dismissed as bluster, but progressive lunatics have already executed a mass shooting directed at GOP representatives playing softball and brutally assaulted a GOP senator. Antifa types openly call for “direct action” (i.e., violence) against their political enemies and have often followed through. Environmental extremists liken climate denial to Nazi genocide and call for Nuremberg-style trials for climate deniers. Even the less extreme progressives have demonstrated viciously rude and abusive behavior to Trump’s family, including grandchildren, when they traveled in coach.

    So I’d give him a pass on that.

    The sweetheart deal on the condo is another thing, even if the lobbyist-landlord has no business before EPA. That was major league stupid. He really should have known that he’d have to dot the i’s and cross the t’s if he was going to drain the swamp because the alligators were bound to be unhappy about it.

    1. The condo deal is in line with Washington D.C. condo prices, though. So…?

      1. Who knows, the media refuses to cover these “stories” with objectivity, so we never get a full picture and decide for ourselves what happened.

        1. It’s not a good look, but he’s paying $50/day for one room. $3k/month for A room. Doesn’t strike me as a particularly sweet deal…

          1. Thanks.

      2. If it’s not a sweetheart deal, then the mainstream media is once again guilty of fake news, and this time I fell for it.

        1. I don’t know if it is or isn’t. Seth Rich’s townhouse address is $3200/month according to Zillow – 1,050 square ft. Not sure how that location compares to Pruitt’s room, just to me – a lowly peon – it doesn’t seem like a great deal.

      3. That’s the part that gets me. If that was bribery then both parties of the bribe suck at it.

  3. He’s probably wasting taxpayer money like all EPA directors before him wasted taxpayer money.

    The left hates him because TRUMP and because he is rolling back their agenda victories. If he was not doing anything to their agenda items, they would not be making such a fuss.

    As Cato pointed out. Pruitt is a target for lefties to physically attack. People who are high risk get security details. FBI director, DHS Director, etc.

  4. The demand for “open science” is alarming, given that there are research parasites who will mis-use the data, some even going so far as to use the data to try to disprove what the original investigators had posited. Sorry, Ron, but we don’t science that way any more. We science by consensus now, not by rigorous examination and replication. 98% of all scientists agree that you just have to trust them.

  5. “The problem isn’t the double standard of how this EPA administrator has been targeted for purchases that are just as exorbitant as his predecessor. The problem is that he should know that those double standards exist, so shame on him”

    1. With a soundproof phone booth, the corrupt bureaucrats working at the EPA cannot leak his private calls to his wife.

      Notice the blasting of Pruitt’s spending fails to address the constant and endemic bureaucratic waste by everyday employees. Most of those employees should be fired for not doing anything worthwhile for their salaries.

  6. There are no ‘swampdweller’ issues, Ron. There is only this–

    Pruitt has been pursuing salutary attempts to rein in his agency.

    That’s it.

    Pruitt is pulling the EPAs teeth. That’s why there are suddenly ‘investigations’.

    I can’t, for the life of me, understand how you fail to see this.

  7. Pruitt is doing a bang up job!

    Gutting regulations has a price, it isn’t free. If Pruitt and his friends get a few fringe benefits – just during their short period of service, it is a small price to pay for the glorious deregulation!

    As Myron Ebell said yesterday, Pruitt’s perks are small potatoes and nothing in comparison to the money saved by those freed from regulation! Pruitt’s perks will pay for themselves something like a billion times over. He should get a raise and his own private jet if it helps him deregulate faster!

    1. So…cabinet officers get to just take whatever for their time in office? Huh. Okay.

      1. How is having a soundproof phone booth “taking whatever for their time”?

        The Clintons took all the White House furniture when they left. That is literally stealing taxpayer owned furniture for their own personal use. The proper policy would have been to give that furniture to another government agency for use or sell it to buy Booosh’s White House furniture.

  8. Of course, any and everything he does will be instantly rescinded and new secretive and non-transparent rules will be installed by whomever ends up in the office next. Meanwhile, this theoretical person that takes over next will probably also fly first class and spend lots of money, only you’ll never hear about it since they’ll have the ‘right views’ on the proper role of the EPA.

    This isn’t a defense of the guy, it’s just what’s going to happen.

    1. It has decades for these rules, he has been rolling back, to be implemented. Trump has picked people who are faster at rolling back government rules than adding to the existing ones.

      Which explains why the left are desperate to attack.

  9. Duh, the whole point of the EPA is to PREVENT people from draining swamps.

    1. We don’t always agree but that was a good one.

    2. Maybe Pruitt could head over to Oak Island to get that swamp drained so we’ll finally figure out there is nothing in it.

  10. The EPA has enjoyed a nice, cushy ride since Nixon allowed this anti-capitalist beast to take root. I don’t know what the hell he was thinking, moving to the left of JFK, but he did it in full view of history despite the epic failure of appeasers such as Chamberlain. From then until now, the agency has conducted its business largely as a media footnote, receiving minimal oversight by congress. So, I don’t wonder they never developed an ethics focus: it’s never been demanded of them. But… this is the Trump administration, and since Mueller hasn’t ‘gotten the goods on Trump’ to fill the narrative, the search for scandal in any part of his administration is on. I won’t be surprised if they attempt to generate a scandal over who cleans the white house toilets as an October surprise come 2020. Can the maoists contain themselves? I don’t know.

    1. What is anti capitalistic about making sure a company pays for the costs incurred by them in production of goods they profit from? It is cheaper for me as a homeowner to dump any kind of building materials, lead, paint, etc in my garbage or just down the street. I am willing to wager many conservative supporters ofPruitt would be protesting if they were my neighbors.

  11. Any one of the actual libertarians here as tired as I am of the comments always being tits deep in Trump humping?

    1. Yeah. It’s pretty sad. But Reason is funded by Big-Money Crony-Libertarianism. It is a faux libertarianism that appeals to crony capitalists, racists, nationalists and big government conservatives, in short, Trump-folk. It is rare I see a comment on any of the articles that displays a genuine knowledge of libertarian principles.
      The influx of agenda-driven funding into libertarianism has destroyed the movement. It’s almost impossible to find people today who are capable of writing non-sponsored libertarian articles.

      1. I love it when you spin your yarns.

        1. Robey-boy He changed his handle again.

    2. Anyone here sick of tards like you always acting like those of us who support some of what trump does actually wanted him for president?

      You dumbasses act like there was some better, feasible, option. There wasn’t.

      So we can either play the hand we’re dealt or we can piss our pants every day like you.

  12. “Pruitt announced that the EPA would no longer use “secret science” in formulating its regulations.
    The new rule will “ensure that the regulatory science underlying Agency actions is fully transparent”

    Really, Ron – < a href="">this increasingly creepy oil patch mafioso had the gall to ban the press, from the “transparency policy’ signing ceremony, while inviting half of K Street & The Heartland Institute !

  13. Another meeting of Libertarians For Pollution has convened, I see.

    1. Fuck off, slaver

      1. Do you think these kinds of responses are effective at getting people to stop posting here?

        1. If we knew what would make him go away would we use it? It’s always fun to have the dimwitted kid to pick on.

          1. ^This

            Without Reverend Arsehole, Tony Tootles, and the Red menace Hihn, what would be the point of commenting?

      2. “Slaver” is somewhat appropriate, in a strange way, because all of this damned liberal-libertarian progress has made a stale-thinking right-winger the whimpering little bitch of people like me.

        You are not going to like the next half-century of American progress — education, science, tolerance, progress, reason, inclusivity — any more than you could stand the last 50 years, when conservatives lost ground on the drug war, voter suppression, abortion, torture, school prayer, contraception, treatment of gays, creationism in classrooms, treatment of women, and dozens of similar issues.

        Carry on, clinger. More whimpering and bitter muttering, maybe.

  14. Rolling back WOTUS might be a good move. Categorically throwing out good science because it isn’t “transparent” enough and ignoring scientists who’ve received federal grants because they’re “conflicted” is not. And those latter moves will mean more bad regulation and more preventable deaths and diseases. Your lazy tu quoque doesn’t change that.

    You can disagree with the EPA’s mission or the overall regulatory approach it’s been entrusted to implement, but as things stand the law charges the EPA to enforce various environmental initiatives, and Pruitt’s moves – like Mulvaney’s at CFPB, Carson’s at HUD, and Trump’s moves in ousting Shulkin to replace him with a drunk sycophant – constitute an undermining of the rule of law so blatant it is nearly a constitutional crisis. If you don’t want the government deciding how much effluent you can poor into rivers, then fucking repeal the CWA. Don’t fuck with the science and put your thumbs on the scale of regulatory action, so that everyone thinks you’re doing your job, when you have no intention to do so.

    1. Maybe instead we don’t have others misuse and reinterpret legitimately passed acts. However, if you want to suggest that an unregulated agency can’t have its charter altered by each executive ad that executive sees fit, then you either suggest Congress does have to authorize every change in the agency or that the agency is unconstitutional. Personally, I agree with the latter for all of them, but I can see where others argue otherwise.

      That some regulations might not be good enough because they can’t effectively hide their information is entirely worse than regulations that might not go with proper scrutiny before or after their deleterious effects are objectively permanent is a poor argument. That good and bad can come from both is more honest, but only one allows for proper public opinion and discussion. The other is reminiscent of the same cronyism of corporations that the rules are meant to control.

      1. This is pretty fucking incoherent.

        Presidents can direct agencies to adjust their priorities, but they can’t sign off on not following or enforcing the law. That includes the law regulating how rules are written or changed. The law requires you to have good reasons for implementing rules and changing them. If you’re just categorically saying you’re going to ignore good science because it isn’t “transparent” enough, then you’re not doing your job. You’re not making sound policy.

        That should be a real problem for libertarians. Libertarians are skeptical about the government’s ability to effectively regulate pollutants, but that doesn’t mean they think we should all die of preventable cancers and other diseases. They think there are other, private-market solutions to getting clean air and water. But as long as we have an agency that is slow waliking its legal responsibilities, the result will be really the worst of both worlds.

  15. “The other is reminiscent of the same cronyism… that the rules are meant to control.”

    Pruitt has made life hard for critics of politicized enviromental Science by bringing his Oil Patch pals along to the swamp at taxpayer expense, and preaching transparency from the DonorsTrust pulpit.

    Do you really want Evangelicals and Dominionists overseeing Biblically Correct reproductive & molecular biology grants, and a climate policy that presumes sea level can’t rise rise because God told Noah so?

  16. “Editorial: Why labor finally lost one in Sacramento”
    “California legislators may have discovered the only Sacramento special interest more sacrosanct than organized labor: themselves.
    Forced to decide whether to allow their own beleaguered staff to organize ? the sort of question that almost invariably goes the unions’ way in a Democratic-ruled, labor-underwritten Legislature ? a legislative committee last week gave organized labor something it doesn’t often get in Sacramento: an unqualified defeat.”

    Same reason Congress doesn’t have to deal with crap-O-care; they’re special

  17. It’s not just that “folks in coach would say rude things to him”, it’s reported that he’s received serious death threats.

    So beefed-up 24 hour security is obviously a requirement to staying alive and doing the job that you want him to do.

    Or does your biased reporting simply show your antipathy to all the benefits that Trump is bringing the USA, – far more than you’d have under a Hillary Clinton presidency…

  18. great post thanks for sharing this wonderful post
    tutuapp apk
    tutuapp for mac

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.