EPA chief Scott Pruitt is once again boosting his security detail, hiring at least a dozen new agents at a cost of $2 million a year in salary alone, CNN reported Monday.
The new agents will join an unprecedented security apparatus for Pruitt, which includes a 24/7 detail and a soundproof communications booth in his office that cost $25,000 to install. The EPA’s inspector general’s office said Pruitt has received more death threats than any prior EPA administrator.
Pruitt, a longtime energy industry advocate who questions the link between carbon emissions and global warming and doubts the EPA’s past findings on climate change, has called for curtailing the size and purview of the agency, echoing the White House’s plan to slash its budget by 30 percent next year.
Part of that is removing most mentions of the words “climate change” from its website and materials and banning EPA scientists from attending a climate change conference Monday in Rhode Island.
The EPA helps fund the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program in the state, and the three scientists helped research and write a 400-page report on the bay’s health that was expected to relate the impact of climate change on the area.
An EPA spokesperson didn’t offer further explanation for the cancellation when asked by the New York Times.
Beyond just limiting public discussion of agency targets like climate change, the EPA has also installed energy and chemical insiders in top rulemaking posts, where they’ve been instrumental in rolling back regulations on potentially harmful chemicals, according to a New York Times investigation published Saturday.
The story, based on interviews with over two dozen current and former EPA and White House staff, points to the example of Trump appointee Dr. Nancy B. Beck, a former chemical industry association executive.
She’s helped the agency’s deregulatory push, helping rewrite over a dozen rules, including one that tried to prevent an industrial chemical linked to kidney cancer, birth defects, and immune disorders from contaminating drinking water.
When asked for more information regarding the influence of the energy industry on rulemaking, this was the agency’s response, according to the Times story:
“No matter how much information we give you, you would never write a fair piece,” Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., said in an email. “The only thing inappropriate and biased is your continued fixation on writing elitist clickbait trying to attack qualified professionals committed to serving their country.”