This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released documents revealing the true cost of EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s trip to Italy last June. Breathless media outlets covered the high costs but did not devote the same coverage to travel spending at former President Obama’s EPA.
“The double standard couldn’t be more clear: under Barack Obama’s EPA the media chose not to report on expenditures to protect the EPA administrator for international travel or the costs of their trips, but under the Trump administration the costs to protect our government officials are somehow scandalous,” Jahan Wilcox, an EPA spokesman, told PJ Media.
The EPA published the costs for Pruitt’s trip to Italy from June 5 to June 12, 2017, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP). According to the EIP, that trip cost more than $120,000, with Pruitt’s security detail costing more than $30,000.
“That’s a lot of money for Mr. Pruitt to tour the Vatican, pose for photos, and tell his European counterparts that global warming doesn’t matter,” Eric Schaeffer, EIP’s director, quipped. “And it doesn’t even include salary costs for everyone who signed up for this tour. Maybe next time he should just send his regrets.”
Various media outlets covered the alleged scandal. “The agency did not appear to turn over the waivers required for an upgraded cabin,” CNN tweeted.
The EPA released documents to a House committee that show Scott Pruitt took more than $105,000 worth of first class flights during his first nine months as administrator, but the agency did not appear to turn over the waivers required for an upgraded cabin https://t.co/LUhGT47HyQ pic.twitter.com/fAgq2h4lbO
— CNN (@CNN) March 21, 2018
Politico reported that Pruitt spent more than $105,000 on first-class flights, not including the additional $58,000 for charter flights and a military jet.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt spent more than $105K on first-class flights in his first year on the job, according to records provided to the House Oversight Committee https://t.co/wt8yJaUmdl pic.twitter.com/5wLBzaznll
— POLITICO (@politico) March 22, 2018
Reuters emphasized the $30,553.88 charge for Pruitt’s security detail in Italy.
“Mamma mia, that’s a lot of pasta,” Environmental Working Group (EWG) President Ken Cook chimed in. “Give Pruitt credit where credit is due. It would be hard for even the richest among us to drop $120,000 on a weeklong trip to Italy. … Is President Trump even embarrassed by the almost-daily revelations about his cabinet’s exorbitant spending?”
Was President Obama embarrassed at the exorbitant spending of his EPA directors? Did these outlets even ask?
In his statement to PJ Media, Wilcox included a list of expensive foreign trips EPA Directors Lisa Jackson (2009-2013) and Gina McCarthy (2013-2017) took between 2011 and 2016. In 2011 and 2012, Jackson spent $332,111 for herself and her staff, for an average of $166,056 per year. From 2013 to 2017, McCarthy spent $539,369, for an annual average of $134,842.
See the full list of trips below.
- In 2016, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $68,382 to travel to Ghana.
- In 2016, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $45,139 to travel to Peru.
- In 2016, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $74,737 to travel to Tokyo, Japan.
- In 2015, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $41,320 to travel to Paris, France.
- In 2015, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $67,702 to travel to Tokyo, Japan.
- In 2015, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $56,192 to travel to Italy.
- In 2014, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $62,246 to travel to Vancouver, Canada.
- In 2014, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $68,267 to travel to Vietnam.
- In 2013, Gina McCarthy and her security detail spent $55,384 to travel to China.
- In 2012, Lisa Jackson and her security detail spent $64,963 to travel to Israel.
- In 2011, Lisa Jackson and her security detail spent $59,950 to travel to Rio de Janiero.
- In 2011, Lisa Jackson and her security detail spent $51,435 to travel to Montreal, Canada.
- In 2011, Lisa Jackson and her security detail spent $155,763 to travel to China.
As for the cost of Pruitt’s security detail, it seems at least partially reasonable due to the unprecedented threats against Trump’s EPA director. Since Trump took office, there have been more than 70 credible threats against EPA staff, mostly against Pruitt and his family.
Democrats, who join with climate alarmists in pushing the narrative of Pruitt endangering the environment, have also attacked his beefed-up security to defend against these threats.
“It is very concerning that scientific disagreement, uncertainty and a complex policy debate surrounding climate change are apparently seeding what seems to be a wave of eco-terrorism against members of the Trump administration,” climate scientist Judith Curry, who runs the blog Climate Etc., told PJ Media.
Curry resigned from her post as chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology last year, noting that approaching climate change with a skeptical scientific mind has become “a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide.”
Due to unprecedented threats, the EPA inspector general’s office recommended 24/7 security for Pruitt.
Why didn’t EIP and EWG file Freedom of Information Act requests to see how much money Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy spent traveling the globe? These climate alarmist organizations disagree with Pruitt and the Trump administration’s position on whether or not humans burning fossil fuels will lead to imminent catastrophic climate change.
Due to this disagreement, environmentalist groups have attacked Trump and Pruitt for destroying the environment, helping to stoke the very threats against Pruitt that necessitate a more expensive security detail. This disagreement also drives them to make a federal case about how much money Pruitt is spending, even though his predecessors spent similar sums traveling the world under Obama.
This “scandal” has nothing to do with how much money Pruitt’s travel costs taxpayers, and everything to do with environmental activists finding every excuse to punish Pruitt’s dissent on climate change alarmism.