Yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Inspector General, Arthur A. Elkins Jr., made public his semiannual report to Congress, which covers his office’s efforts to document and combat inefficiency and financial malfeasance in the Environmental Protection Agency. Given that the EPA is run by Scott Pruitt, a man who still isn’t convinced that climate change is a real thing, the Inspector General definitely has work cut out for him.
The report, which spans a period from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, is kind of dark. The Inspector General notes a drastic increase in the number of cost-saving recommendations made by his office that the EPA either ignored or rejected once Pruitt took control of the agency. While there were 10 unimplemented recommendations in 2016, that number skyrocketed to 80 during 2017. By the end of March, per the report, that number had risen to 114, which represents $860 million that the EPA could be saving but isn’t.
The report similarly noted that EPA has ignored many of the Inspector General’s suggestions for increasing public safety. Elkins had asked them to tighten rules around home fumigation, the use of dangerous pesticides on American farms, the shelf life of disinfectants, dangerous chemicals in gasoline, and checking imported goods for illegal pesticides. The EPA, uh, didn’t do any of that stuff.
The EPA’s Inspector General isn’t the only entity pointing out the agency’s sketchiness under Pruitt, however. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware released a report last week finding that Pruitt’s efforts to “repeal regulations, delay their implementation, or deny the public access to agency information” have resulted in over 140 lawsuits against the EPA. The agency has been successful in only two of those lawsuits.
Meanwhile, an analysis conducted by Democratic members of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works found that while Administrator Pruitt spent roughly $733,700 hauling his personal security detail around the country with him in 2017, the average EPA head during the Obama administration spent less than a third of that during any given year. This adds onto previous findings that Pruitt took trips — ostensibly on official business — to Morocco, Israel, and Australia that were in fact arranged by lobbyists or for the purpose of advancing Pruitt’s personal business interests.
All of Pruitt’s chicanery is occurring, of course, amid a backdrop of climate crisis. The earth is getting hotter, America’s landfills are piling up, and a mysterious country is pumping destructive gas into the atmosphere. But by all means, Scott Pruitt, please do keep taking private jets with your private security detail — because that’s exactly what people do when they’re supposed to be protecting the environment.