An internal watchdog said Tuesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hasn’t provided a good explanation for its decision not to recover travel expenses from former Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOVERNIGHT ENERGY: DOJ whistleblower says California emissions probe was ‘abuse of authority’ | EPA won’t defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards | Minnesota sues Exxon, others over climate change EPA won’t defend policy blocking grantees from serving on boards after court losses Trump official violated ethics rules in seeking EPA job for relative, watchdog finds MORE that were found to be improper.
In a new update to a report from last year, the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) said the agency decided it won’t try to recoup the costs but “has not provided sufficient justification to support the basis of the determination, that is, evidence that a security risk existed at the time.”
A 2018 inspector general report found that Pruitt and his staff spent $123,942 on “excessive airfare expenses … without sufficient justification to support security concerns requiring the use of first- and business-class travel.” It recommended that the EPA demand reimbursement from Pruitt for his share of the expenses.
Testifying before Congress this year, EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House threatens veto on Democrats’ .5 trillion infrastructure plan | Supreme Court won’t hear border wall challenge | Witnesses describe ‘excessive force’ used by law enforcement in Lafayette Square Stronger pollution standards could save 143k lives: study OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump nominates controversial, longtime acting head of BLM as director | Ernst sinks vote on Trump EPA nominee | Massive dust storm from Africa hits Texas, Louisiana MORE said he did not know whether the agency had the authority to recover the money from Pruitt.
“They didn’t specify what authority we would have to recoup that money,” Wheeler said of an OIG report.
Wheeler became the head of the agency following Pruitt’s 2018 resignation. Pruitt left his post amid a number of ethics controversies, including his use of first-class travel for EPA related work.