The Slatest

EPA Head Loves Climate Change, Hot Towels, Burning Jet Fuel

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 7:  Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about the mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on December 7, 2017 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
For $1,600, taxpayers could have carried him to New York.
Pete Marovich/Getty Images

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent more on first-class plane tickets in one month than the median American household earns in a year, according to a report in the Washington Post.

This summer, the administrator’s lavish travel budget included a $7,004 round-trip ticket between New York and Rome, where Pruitt spent most of his time touring the Vatican, according to records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project. He also spent $1,641 on a first-class flight from Washington to New York, a jaunt too short even for beverage service—at least in coach. A few days later, he spent $36,069 on a military jet to take him from New York to Cincinnati. It was quite a week.

The rest of June brought Pruitt’s travel budget up to more than $90,000, which doesn’t include the handful of first-class trips back to his home state of Oklahoma that have cost more than $2,000 apiece over the course of his tenure. Or the cost of the tickets for his security detail, a first for an EPA head.

It’s charitable, if misguided, that Pruitt, who believes climate change may help humans “flourish,” has personally strived to burn as much jet fuel as possible from his perch atop the EPA. But he’s not the only member of the Trump cabinet who enjoys a reclined chair at 30,000 feet. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife used a government jet to watch the moon block out the sun from atop a mountain of gold. Interior secretary Ryan Zinke went skiing. Former HHS Director Tom Price had to resign over his private jet use.

Pruitt has a penchant for expensive, fussy behavior. He spent $25,000 on a soundproof privacy box for his office because he was worried about eavesdropping. He installed biometric locks and swept the office for bugs. He has also insisted on hiring a full-time security team to follow him around 24/7, including on his international jaunts, an undertaking the EPA inspector general says is justified because Pruitt has received more death threats than his predecessors.

Pruitt’s taste for a hot towel in a big comfy airplane chair may be the most relatable thing about him.