tv EPA Administrator Pruitt on Agencys Budget CSPAN April 26, 2018 11:40am-1:45pm EDT
. there are 21 members of the senate judiciary committee and by a vote of 14 to 7 they have approved a measure that would provide protections for special counsels, it would also set requirements and limitations on the removal from office of a special counsel appointed by an attorney general. no word on if or when this measure will come to the senate floor. if you missed the discussion
earlier, you can find it again at cspan.org. on the senate floor now coming up shortly the vote on mike pompeo to be secretary of state, follow that on c-span 2. here on c-span 3, mean while, we will take you live over to the house side, the energy committee hearing from epa administrator scott pruitt. live coverage on c-span 3. >> -- potential health effects of this decision. yes or no, did epa conduct an analysis of the health effects including the potential increased risk of cancer of this decision before releasing the january 25th guidance memo? >> that's something we will have to provide and verify. >> yes or no, did epa conduct an analysis of the potential health effects of this policy on children, babies or pregnant women before releasing the january 25th? >> that's something we will have to assess and provide. >> yes or no, did epa conduct annual annual sits of the poe it tension health effects of this policy on older americans or those with chronic health
problems before releasing the january 25th guidance. >> i hate to be redundant but that's something we will have to assess and provide. >> yes or no did epa conduct an analysis of the potential health impacts of this policy on minority and low income communities before releasing the january 25th. >> i would answer the same way. >> in the absence of information from epa a number of independent groups have taken it upon themselves to an lies the potential toxic impacts this policy would have on communities near and down wind from major sources. they found that the chemical industry stands to benefit substantially from this loophole. have you met with any industrial representatives who requested the repeal of this once and always in policy. >> again, this was a decision to provide incentive to companies to invest to lower emissions. >> there is no incentives for solution. i'm going to conclude with one different subject because this is very important to me. you recently concluded the midterm evaluation of fuel economy standards for model
years 2022 to '25. it is my deep belief that the auto companies, their workers and the consumer have benefited from having one national program for fuel economy and that it's critical to preserve that moving forward. the importance of these standards besides saving energy, reducing emissions is the certainty that businesses need. i'm deeply worried about reports that california doesn't matter to you. >> the gentle lady's time is expiring. >> all right. i just want to say it's my hope that we can have one national program moving forward. if you do we work on it together, everybody wins. >> gentle lady's time has expired. we will accept for submission into the record the statement from the american association for advancement of sciences, just for our colleagues note the chief executive officer is a guy named rush holt who you will all remember.
chair recognizes gentleman from north carolina, mr. hudson for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and thaw for being here today. i have two areas of questions i want to jump into with with you, first relates to the chemical genex and the cape fear river. as i'm sure you are aware my state of north carolina is is if aing growing concerns over the emerging contaminant genex. i have engaged with you on this issue several times in the past. my concern is that we have a chemical that is spreading that we simply do not know enough about. i'm worried on the epa's website you state that a management plan for the related family of chemicals won't be developed until the may of 2018. two days ago i received a letter from the office of water addressing some but not all of our questions that i've asked about genex. i understand the epa has posted literature related to genex on
it's website but they are also developing human health toxicity to genex to aid states in refining public health goals. what information is the epa seeking that the literature it has does not already provide and when will the results of the epa's information development be available to the public. >> very important issue. i have talked to the governor there in north carolina and it's something that i'm aware of the issues in north carolina. we will have a toxicity review by the summer. >> summer. >> with respect to genex. as you know, this is an iteration beyond pfil and pfos. genex was a successive chemical. i'm very concerned about its impact and we are ak sell ra i get that tox review, we will look at further steps in the fall. we have been in communications with north carolina and the governor particularly about that. >> i appreciate the attention you have put on this. what were the updates to epa's management of the genex based on independent laboratory analysis
of samples found in the cape fear river. >> with respect to the toxicity review or other studies, congressman? >> well, there were independent laboratory analysis of the compounds that were done. >> that's part of the work that's being done to support the tox review that will occur this summer and there will be additional standards set in the future. what we're trying to do is work with those states like north carolina that have annum nant concern and trying to provide them guidance as they adopt state responses as well. >> well, then, i don't know if you're able to make a conclusion yet, but was genex used in a manner that's incompatible with the consent agreement under the toxic substance control act? >> that's something i'm not able to speak to at this point, but we can get you the information. >> i appreciate your seriousness of which you have taken this and the work you're doing with our governor and us on this. >> governor cooper has been very concerned about it and focused upon it, it's important that we address it with you and him and the state.
>> thank you. i'd like to pivot now and discuss another area that you highlight the as a priority for the agency which is clean air. in the 47 years since the enactment of the clean air act the epa has never taken an enforcement action against amateur racers who make modifications to vehicles used exclusively on tracks for racing. do you support this policy? >> the policy of taking no enforcement? >> yes, sir. >> i think it's wise, yes. >> i appreciate that. in 2015 under the previous administration the epa slipped a few sentences into a 600 page unrelated rule that proposed to repeal this policy. after a number of us raised concerns they backed off. but they sort of left some ambiguity there about the legality of this. would you support legislation clarifying the vehicles can be modified for racing and that doing so does not violate the anti-tampering provisions in the clean air act slopgs those vehicles are not used on public roads, are used exclusively for competition. >> it's always helpful for us to get congressional clarity on
these issues, so absolutely. >> i appreciate that. i appreciate the time you've given us here today. thank you for your focus on clean air and clean water, goals we all share. >> thank you. >> thank you. where that, mr. chairman, i would yield back. >> chair now recognizes the gentle lady from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator pruitt it's widely reported that most of your patrons and supporters are from the oil, gas and coal industries. the regulations you have withdrawn, delayed or weakened rules on coal ash disposal, methane gas emissions from oil and gas operations, air pollution from glider trucks, formaldehyde emission standards translate into additional profits for those industries but relatively impact public health. so it doesn't come much of a surprise that you have determined in the midterm evaluation that the stronger vehicle fuel efficiency standards are too stringent. i strongly disagree with this determination. there is a very robust record to support the need for stronger
standards and the availability of technology to achieve them. highlighted by the 1,200 page technical assessment report issued by the epa. administrator pruitt, you have stated many times that you intended to operate at the epa on the basis of cooperative federalism and the rule of law. when it comes to california and vehicle emission standards all of a sudden neither of these concepts seem to apply. you made it clear that you do not favor california's waiver and wish to state that greenhouse emission standards for vehicles and you stated that california should not have, quote, an outside influence on vehicle standards. but this position is inconsistent with your preference for states rights and more importantly it is inconsistent with the law. california special status with respect to vehicle emission regulation has been enshrined in federal law over 50 years,
section 209 b of the clean air act states the administer shall grant a waiver to any state if the state not the agency determines the state's standards will be at least as protective of occur if epa moved to evoke california's waiver but many of your public statements allude to the agency moving in that direction, i would ask you, does the agency intend to initiate proceeding to revoke california's waiver. >> not at present, we work with california represent eves on the issue. i sent people to meet with miss nichols, it's important that we work together to aheave at national standard.
>> so is not a yes or no? >> we are working in california diligently on this issue. >> okay. well i believe your answer should be a no, you said you want a national program and you will not get that without california's agreement. the law requires you to set standards that protect health and welfare, california's standards do just that, california agreed to enter into a agreement to accomplish that goal. if you challenge the wawfer or significantly weaken the standards, you are not following the rules of law, if you are doing what you said you are going to do, you must uphold the law and set protective standards. so far you have demonstrated no intings to do that, thaghts why
the entire country knees california's waiver to sure that -- insure that the administrator cares more about the public's health. earlier you said that the epa has data supporting your decision to revise standards for live vehicles, will you commit to providing that data by the end of the day, that's a yes or no. >> we have two responsibilities, one is a midterm evaluation we will provide that. >> will you produce it by the end of the day. >> i will instruct the team to get that to you as soon as possible. >> end of the day. >> as soon as possible. >> hopefully within a week? >> i will get it to you as soon
as possible. >> thank you, i yield back. >> choir recognizes the gentlemen from north dakota, mr. kramer for five minutes. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. administrator for lots of things, first of all for being here. i never cease to be impressed with the knowledge of things you have. some people expect you to know everything, in my years, both on this committee and previous committees, i have never had a cabinet official that knew as much about the policies of the agency that they are implementing, thank you for that, also thank you for your understanding of and commitment to krooptive federalism, it's something that has been lost in previous administrations including from some of your critics that are predecessors
to you, the restoration of that is no smawt matter. the people of north dakota appreciate your approval of our state's application for primacy over class six wells. i am struck by some of the accusations that came at you today. you were accused of picking winners and losers with your policies, isn't the clean power plan picking winners and losers by trying to regulate electric generation. >> the agency in response to that defined the best systems for emission reduction under the statute. it's letting the local level decide how to generate
electric. >> you have been accused of hypocrisy and a lack of transpartners yu by people who in the same breath are defending secret science, all the while accusing accusing you of being the idealoge in the room. >> scientific transpartners yu applied to all third party studies of every type. if api did a study and did not provide the methodology and data and then if the epa acted, there could be tremendous concerns about that, it applies to all third party science irrespective of the source, data, methodology and conclusions matter and the american people need to
understand that. >> it seems to me, maybe you could elaborate on how personal data can be protected and is protected. nobody is asking for the names of every victim of every pollution source that has ever happened in the world. they are not asking for personal data. we are asking for the science to be revealed. you can protect personal data, right? >> personal data as well as confidential business information, it can be redacted and addressed and still serve the purposes of the proposed rule. >> of all of the accusations today, it was interesting after four minutes of defending the swamp, one of the leaders said so much for draining the swamp. the greatest sin you have committed is you have done what
president donald trump ran on and what he commissioned you to do, carrying out environmental protection and also worrying about job creation, in the remaining minute, can you elaborate on the new source issue review, we have a number of plans finding is very difficult to meet the spirit of the intent of new source review, i think it seems to be working against itself. >> what new source are review is, when you have a company that wants to invest, sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars in their facilities to reduce pollution, they refuse to do so because it may require additional permitting which they may not get. review is important to incentivize and reward companies that want to invest
in better outcomes, we talked about that earlier. that is what that is, under the category, you have major emitters and minor emitters, if you are a major emitter is you invest and reduce pollution down to minor levels, you can be rewarded for that and incentivizes to do better. >> thank you very much for calling this hearing and also i mark your words that you said hopefully today we are talking about policy and stewardship. i hope we can get that on the record on both of those fronts, welcome to the people's house, the list of your failures is long and your wasteful spending is an embarrassment to government and offensive to the taxpayers that pay all of our salaries, this administration is so packed with unethical behavior but at the same time,
you have to understand that your power directly impacts the health and well-being of vulnerable populations in the country, seniors, children, our sick and disabled. it's tempting to ask why you spent 68 68 -- $68,000 on travel and a privacy booth that cost over $43,000 and a desk that costs over to thousand dollars but we know that some of these purchases were made in violation of federal laws, when you appeared before this subcommittee in december, you said that your phone booth is used for classified conversations and sensitive conversations with the white house, has this $43,000 phone booth been certified as a scif
and are you using it for classified conversations. >> it has not been certified but it provides potential confidential communications, i had a phone call that came in of a sensitive nature and i did not have a scif, i gave the direction to my staff and out of that came an expensive that i did not use. >> career individuals at the agency took that process through and signed off on it all the way through. >> you were not involved in that. >> i was not involved in the approval of the $45,000 and if i had known about it, i would have refused it. >> if something happens in my office for $43,000, i know about it beginning, and after. i know you can see the irony
even though you are not talking responsibility. the budget of the epa is not unlimited. when you take public resources for personal use, other life saving actives suffer, an epa appointee that came with you from oklahoma and was recently awarded with a large raise over the white house's disapproval, went out and looked for a condo for you, turning to your questionable condo lease, i find it concerning that you never had an epa ethics attorney review the lease before you signed it. did an ethics attorney review the lease. >> i am not aware of government time being used by her. she's a friend.
>> you stated for the record that you are not aware that she used her official time but did any of the attorneys at the epa look at your lease before you signed it. >> the review took place after wars. >> what did they say about the lease afterwards. >> they said that the rate paid was comparable. >> did they state that in writing for verbally? >> yes writing. >> can you get a copy of that? >> yes. >> it was will reported that as attorney general of oklahoma, you reassigned an investigative staff of the office to be your personal driver and security team, are those reports accurate. >> i am not aware of what you are trying to say. >> all right my next question,
in an apparent attempt to rebut reports, your agency published data february talking about a large increase in penalties against polluters but they were from the obama administration, 90% of the numbers you reported were from the obama administration, did you claim credit to obscure your week record on enfrsment. >> we have increased the numbers of agents. >> i want to show you a picture. >> the gentlemen will suspend, his time is expired. the chair will recognize the gentlemen from michigan for five minutes, i thank the add straighter for being here. i appreciate you taking the time to do this, is important for us as we work in the constitutional relationship, thank you for being here and
thank you for your policy efforts as you perform your functions, administrator pruitt, last time you were before the committee, you told me that the great legs restoration initiative is something we should work together to make sure is receiving good outcomes, we will continue that discussion as we head into 2018. i appreciate those words but we have seen a lack ever support for the glri in this fy 19 budget request, it was funded at $30 million by this administration. obviously i was and am not okay with that level of funding and worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the great lakes caucus in an effort to restore full funding, which we did, for that. i certainly would love to stand on the banks of one of the
great lakes in my district, lake erie with you and have an opportunity to discuss further what is so important about 20% of the worlds fresh water resource being in the great lakes and what a great job we have done. do you believe $30 million is adequate for such a critical program. >> i commend what congress has done, they restored that in the omnibus, i remain committed to you. >> can you request that the administration works with us on that. >> i will continue to do that, is important and is something that we want to, in the great lakes region, take care of that resource as good stewards and i believe you do as well. >> the challenge, is an issue. we want to do all that week, i was in region five earlier this week and obviously they are
focused on those efforts. i hope we can find better outcomes on the funding levels. >> with the invasive species and the algae bloom, which is significant, touching my district, across the line in ohio as well. last time you mentioned that there would be an interest, you said is something that we ought to do going forward and insure that there is a partnership like that. we are recovering to agriculture and interior, have you had an opportunity to talk about sonny purdue or ryan zinke about how to address it in the great lakes. >> the secretary and i talked about issues with respect to geographical focus but ryan and i have not. ights important for states to
join together, porng and collaborating with the federal government to achieve better outcomes, that's an comm of true federalism. >> -- ang area -- an area of committee and true federalism. >> next is the concentration of invasive species, i believe we have an administration route now that is not committed to some of the shipping interests in illinois and and yan -- indiana. we have water resources that could be used in many ways if asian karp got into the great
lakes, can you provide an update on what your efforts have been with the army corps of engineers that have been dragging their oars on this issue for too long. >> i have had contact with the corps on a multitude of issues, i do not recall speaking about this issue but i appreciate you making me aware of this issue and we will talk with them on their involvement. >> that's so significant, it's amazing, we have seen dna that have come from karp in the great lakes, if that happens, there is no turning back, this is an environmental protection issue, i hope you will check into that further and i would like to check back with you. thank you mr. chairman and thank you mr. pruitt for being
here. i have the privilege the representing the whole coast of georgia and the sava thrks nah hashon -- savannah harbor, it supports the infrastructure and economic principles laid out by president donald trump. it's what he has been talking about when he talked about investing in the infrastructure in our country, is one of the most steady projects in the history of man kind, we started the project in the late 1990s, since that time, three ports in china have been started and completed but this has not been completed yet. back when you were hear in december, i brought to your
attention the tier four emissions standards being required for harbor piles and their boats, unless we get the ships into and out of the ports, it does us no good to invest in the project, we have to have the pilots being able to get the ships in and out of the ports. the tier four emissions standards, i spoke to you in december about those, after months of my staff and your staff going back and fourth to discuss this. since that time, i have had the harbor pilots coming up to washington, dc to meet with your staff, your staff was completely unprepared. it was a complete waste of time for the harbor piles to be here, you gave me a commitment in december that you would look into this, i need to know where you are at. this is important for us, where
are you at with this. >> my apologies to you and your constituents if we were not responsive. that's the first i have heard of that i will check on that. secondly, we are sending representatives to california to meet with the architects on the construction of the vessels. >> when will they be going to california? >> i think this month. >> april? >> may. >> next month? >> yes. >> can i have a commitment that we are going to get this fixed. are you personally involved in this. >> i am now. >> as of today? >> yes. >> you told me you were in tease, now today. >> my team took steps in december, apparently that has not been done, i will be engaged in this going forward. >> i want to help you because i want you to help me. this is extremely important, as
i have said before, the largest economic development project in the state of georgia since the interstate system. we have to have this done, the manufacturers are telling us, they cannot meet the tier four emissions standards and build the vessels that we need. >> i think is also a competitive system with other regulations along with the engines. >> there is work to be done. >> can i have a commitment that this will be resolved in 30 days. >> you have a commitment that i will get involved. >> can i are a commitment that you will get this resolved as soon as you can. >> i will find the answers to this in 30 days. >> also the tier four emissions standards are causing problems with generators, they are not able to build the large, 1 megawatt generators, i
represent the whole coast of georgia, we have hurricanes, we need generator, they cannot make these, will you commit to roing the tier four standards and seeing if they are practical and rashal. >> i will engage in conversations around this issue and see what the options are. >> the last thing i want to ask you about is bio-butanol, an alternative fuel, i understand that you have a comment period that ends at the end of april. >> i can verify that. >> please verify that, etha thrks ol add -- ethanol causes damage to engines, we need that to come to market.
>> gentlemen's time is up. >> thank you mr. chair. >> the chair recognizes the gentlemen from mississippi for five minutes. >> welcome add straighter pruitt. it appears that its a political blood sport to try to destroy anybody associated with the trump administration, i want to saw thank you for what your agency has done and the attention that they have given to performance standards for residential heaters, that was important to some employers not being able to meet a deadline, i appreciate the work your agency has done on that. i also want to ask you a few questions and i need to ask you about a serious of media reports that i found concerning, according to those
reports, 5 epa officials have been reassigned, demoted or requested to change jobs because they raised concerns about your spending and management of the agency, you testified that the actions were based on other reasons but the implication can have an impact on the moral of the employees, explain these allegations and tell us what speps you take to investigate allegations. >> first, there is no truth to the assertion that decisions have been made about reassignment or otherwise based on the things that you referenced. i am not aware of that ever happening and is something that i want to make very clear, the individuals, i do not know to whom you referenced, they are serving in other capacities, they are still employees of the agencies, i think that is important to note but i want to
emphasize clearly to you that there is no action that we have taken that i am aware of, related in any way to reassignment based on that. >> can you assure me and the employees of the epa that all whistle blower complaints are taken seriously and you make sure that whistle blowers are protected from retaliation. >> absolutely, that's how we get better and improve outcomes, that is something that i can commit and will commit to you. >> i are had some of my constituents raise an issue regarding oil spill response training, i am told that the training for folks involved in
oil spill prevention and clean up have been eliminated and that the epa no longer makes these trainings available. would you be willing to commit to looking into whether funding can and will be made available for what we believe is important training. >> yes, i agree with that. >> over the last six years, the epa has used its discretion to eliminate the effectiveness of the assistance appropriated by congress to small and rural communities in my home state of mississippi including eliminating funding for my state's circuit rider positions, my rural and small communities have told me numerous times that this is the best and most helpful
assistance with epa water standards and unfunded mandates. to address this problem, congress passed and the president signed a version of the grass roots rural and small community water systems assistance abilities to stop this problem caused by the epa and still continues today. this bill requires the epa to give preference to technical assistance of small and rural communities, so on april 11th of 2018, you announced technical assistance grants, i hoped that would return the search positions to mississippi spt other states but i am told that there is less help with epa mandates to smaller rural communities, did you conduct a review and will you look no this for possible necessary corrections. >> those tag grants are so
important, some of our water infrastructure, those rural communities also need tremendous assistance, those tag grants are something that should be a focus in that area that you raised, i loo look into that for you. >> the chair recognizes the gentlemen from illinois, mr. rush for five minutes. >> i must say add -- i must say, no thank you to the policies of the environmental protection agency under your tenure but in my home city of chicago, we are in a difficult situation. we have internal brain damaging lead found in tap water in hundreds of homes across
chicago, this article was written on april the 12th of 2018, the article wept on to say that of the 2800 homes checked between 2015 and 2007, close to 70% were found to contain elevated levels of lead. three out of every 10 homes tested contained lead concentration higher than five parts per million, the maximum amount allowed in bottled water allowed by the fda, they are considering changes to the lead rules, this rule was issued last year when the agency under your leadership has repeatedly delayed any action on this. you have also delayed action on the lead renovation, repair and
painting rule for commercial buildings. and your recent proposal on scientific data could brock the epa from considering landmark studies of what you misleadingly term, quote, secret science, these important studies are critical in identifying potential risks to public health including those related to led contamination, cancers related to smoking as well as the health impacts associated with other dangerous contaminants, i want to hear from you on how the agency removes or phased out lead in drinking water such as requiring replacement of lead
service lines as well as our justification for your attacks on established scientific data, i have also been concerned by your public statements expressing your belief that there is it a safe level of lead and lead contamination of drinking water. as you note, even your own agency has declared that there are no safe levels of lead for consumption, according to the center for disease control and prevention, even pupilling pupilling -- presuming tiny amounts of lead, it can harm children's brains and contribute to kidney failure and heart disease and other
problems, this issue is replacing lead piping will require billions of dollars to remediate this problem on a national level, i am curious to hear from you, ways that the epa might provide financing and other mechanis address this issue. you know in the administration's fy 19 budget, they proposed $860 million for drinking water state resolving funds, a $1.2 million crow from the fy 17 levels but the most recent survey estimation shows that it will cost over $472
billion for capital improvements for the years 2015 through 2034. the meaning is to assess this and other issues. i would like to hear from you what steps the epa is taking to address these critical issues. the gentlemen's time is expired. >> there is base level lead in our dripping water. we have estimated its $45 billion to replace the lead service lines across the country and with the authority that the congress has given the epa, i believe we can authorize funding up to $4 billion a year and achieve tremendous progress. the gentlemen from virginia
for five minutes. >> thank you administrator pruitt, if we could submit from the article from the times, virginia tech team gets epa grant to engineer water quality project, in the previous administration, there was a regional epa administrator that looked the other way, the flint michigan problem became a problem but it was exposed by mark edwards, a professor at virginia tech, he started to do the studies that needed to be done and now your epa has granted his group $1.9 million to have folks test their water and send it in so we can find out where the hot spots are. the professor said he calls this the largest engineering
citizens science project in american history. the three year grant will support his team and other universities involved. he said that all of the work we did with consumers over the years created this bottom up organic science phenomenon and a tidal wave the understanding that could not be ignored. this is how science is supposed to work for me. if we can have that article put in the record by unanimous consent. >> the democrats have approved. without objection, is submitted for the record. >> i am going to switch gears, i would not help think mr. rush's comments were timely for that, i am switching to the fire rule for minimum emissions standards approved in the prior administration, you have taken some action in rars to one part of the regards to one rt -- regards to one part of that but
i first want to talk about trailers, i do not know that they have authority to regulate trailers when the clean air act talks about motor vehicle means any self-propelled moart vehicle on the highway. it may have a compressor, but would you agree that we need to make sure that trailers are not declared to be self-propelled motor vehicles. >> yes. >> i have to move on. you are also in the process of looking at the situation in the same regulation related to guiders and big trucks, i have a problem. my district has the volvo north america truck manufacturing site. thousands of jobs, billions of dollars are spent to meet the new requirements.
the law does not say that the epa can do what they did, because they went after gliders and said, you cannot do it, they do not have the authority to do that because its not a motor engine. and what is interesting is, i do believe that there ought to be something, volvo and other truck manufacturers spent billions upgrading. you do not have authority over motor vehicles, that's 11 years, 120,000 miles, the gliders are not just being used on wrecked trucks or other trucks in that time frame but they are being used on trucks outside of their useful life.
do you think that it's appropriate to take a look, now that its in the law, you have that authority, look at it and see what can be worked out so we do not just have trucks being overhauled by the glider companies that are decades old and recognizing that they have the right to do that if the truck has not used up its useful life. >> that alternative is something we have not reviewed yet. we have been focused on the statute analysis to gliders and trailers. >> i think that 85% of what the previous administration wanted to accomplish could have been accomplished if they did not do sloppy legal work. thank you mr. chairman. administrator, thank you for being here today. i apologize for the
abrasiveness of my colleagues that want to tarn ish your contactor. i want to spend a few minutes discussing the obama administration rules of the waters of the united states. as you know, this relation sought to expand federal control over our country's streams and millions of acres of wet lands, it's allowed the army corps of engineers to regulate a lot of waters. it's hurting farmers, ranchers and job creators and they have done very little to help environmental stewardship. i know on our multi state action tour last summer, you saw the moving no zero negative impact that the regulations had
on farmers and local business, they are emblematic of the federal awrve reach by the obama administration, it's our responsibility in congress to use your lawmakerring power to next legislative fixes, i appreciate your efforts to curtail those rules, we talked about that the last time you were in front of this committee. i just want to ask this question, i saw earlier this month, you issued a memo taking control of the administration. can you elaborate on the intentions of this document and why you issued that memo. >> there have been many decisions made at the regional level as i was talking about earlier, using that decision historically. so we had inconsistency across the country with respect to
what jurisdiction we had. this was an effort to draw that back to make sure we had union uniformity. >> why is this important to the waters of the united states. >> certainty and clarity is very important, if you have land owners across the country guessing about whether the epa or our engineers or other agents have jurisdiction, they do not want to find out years later that they should have gotten that permit and face fines each day for a number of years, clarity and certainty where federal jurisdiction begins and ends is important with respect to the united states rule. >> is it your contention, when i look at the wearts of the united states ruling some i look at streams and ditches in
my district falling under the injured, these are ditches that hold water in a rain event. that are not navigable water ways, if you came out to them, you would say, why are though covered. is there an attempt to pull those designated areas back in. >> that is part of our efforts. it's not just a repeal in the marketplace, it's also what is coming next. where is the clarity, where does the jurisdiction begin and end. the jurisdictional determinations have been so incan't and different in certain parts of the country, potholes, they are considered water in the united states, i believe that's not the intept -- intent the congress, we are
going through that process and providing that clarity. >> just a last question, during my time in the state legislature, we had stances where areas were considered yeuz wet lants, they were where loading decks were situated. they sat there for a while. no wet land, no springs but bull rishes possible -- bull rushes popped up and it was designated a wet land. is there anything the epa is doing to look at the isolated wet land issue. >> yes. absolutely we are. >> thank you. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> yes yields back his time. the chair recognizes the lady from california. >> thank you to the chairman for holding today's hearing and for extending the legislative courtesy for me to participate
in the subcommittee which i am not a member of. administrator pruitt, public officials and public office have a public trust to live up to. we are called to hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards so that the people we serve have the confidence that we work for them. not for ourselves, not for special interests but for them. in front of your title, administrator. is united states. epa, is an agency that richard nixon founded. i think that if a public
official loses the trust of people and his or her ability is krinled because of the trust factor. you have a solid record of breaking ethics rules from the state level right up to the federal government. it's a long list and it includes wasteful spending, i think is an embarrassment. -- it is an embarrassment to our country and i think its offensive to our country, my constituents raise a lot of questions about you and say, how is he doing this. the first question i will ask you is unusual. do you have any remorse for the excessive spending on behalf of
yourself, the expensive air tickets, stopping in paris, the amounts of dollars that you have spent at the agency for an expensive telephone booth, you said it was for a scif but there is a scif at the epa, do you have any remorse for that. >> i echo your comments, i think that what you said is true about the importance of public trust. i endeavor to live in a way that respects that. >> do you have any remorse. >> i have made changes already, the change from first class travel to coach. >> you claimed that the owner of the condo where you pay
below market rent never lobbied you, but mr. heart met with you regarding the clean up of the cehesapeke bay. >> the meeting you referred to was not regarding him. >> did you discuss his clients or bus with him outside of official settings. >> do you have any other lobby i was or representatives with industries with business before the epa, who provided you will personal favors that you have not previously disclosed. >> the only event that took place, the meeting was not relevant. >> are there any other instances where you granted access to donors or lobby i was to whom you owed personal favors. >> your travel included regular
upgrades to first class, it cost over $200,000, since you became administrator, are you reimbursing the taxpayers for that. >> we can provide you the analysis. >> i do not want that. you did not answer the question, are you going to reimburse taxpayers for the overage, that includes 10 trips to oklahoma as well. are you going to reimburse. >> the travel office and the security team determine where i sit on a plane, all of the trips i have taken with epa dollars are official trips. >> i am elected but i am not a fool. that's a lousy answer for one who has a high position dm in the federal government. we ask these questions on
behalf of our constituents, i do not find you fourth coming. the last questions i would like to ask, when you traveled to your home did you attend political fundraisers. >> the lady's time is expired. the chair recognizes the gentlemen from pennsylvania. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. pruitt, i think that the program that you generated on the spending decision is warranted. i have reviewed your answers, i find some of them lacking or insufficient, i believe that you have not demonstrated the rek sit degree of good judgment required of a person in your
position, it's been reported that epa officials who have challenged your spending decisions and who have been reassigned or demoted were not re assigned or demoted over your spending decisions but they all had performance issues, in each of those stances, were the issues documented prior to them being reassigned or demoted. >> i am not sure to what you are referring, i talked about that earlier. i am aware of two individuals being reassigned, that routinely happens in their category, i know of no stance where decisions were made at the agency based on spending
and employment decision. >> are there stances where current epa officials who have objected to spending decision that you have made that are still in their positions. >> these individuals to whom you refer, i had limited interaction with them. they did not spend meaningful time with me are respect fo recommendations around spending, the most of the time i spent with one was in the field, not at headquarters, there is no fact ral relationship between -- factual relationship between any counseling regarding spending. >> the issue of the individuals who worked for you regarding pay raises, are you saying that you were not aware of the raises until after the fact. >> i was not aware of one
seeking a raise, i was not aware of the amount provided or the process used to evaluate that. that's what i have spoken to. >> the other issue that has received a lot of attention is the $43,000 phone booth, you are saying that, at no time, from the point between when you learned that it was $13,000 to the time that it became $43,000, you were never apprised of the additional costs related to that. >> i was not aware of the numbers, i gave a direction to my leadership team to address secure communications and that began, career individuals were involved in that process from beginning to end and made that
decision with regards to the $43,000 allocation. >> i am very concerned about those that have personal security related concerns, i do not know who has said what to you or when but i think that there is more than that in the general public but i believe that someone in the ig's office has not found some of the personal security concerns that you have proffered in relation to the enhanced security you received, to be warranted or credible. would you kindly provide a bit more detail on why you think you need, when folks read by trips to disney land, professional basketball games, the rose bowl and the
additional security related to that. that does not sit well with people. >> i can read from an inspector gem investigation, there are several hear listed with respect to threats fnlt i will read you two. -- i hope your mother watches in horror while your father suffers for hours on end. another said, i am going to put a bullet between your ice, we can provide the threats to you. the ig has said that the threats are unprecedented. >> i think that the point has been made. the chair now recognizes the gentlemen from new york. >> thank you chairman and ranking member. the person appointed to run the
epa needs to be someone who cares im protecting the health and safety of -- about protecting the health and safety of the people in the country, your time in office has been different, your tenure has been stained by repeated abuses of public trust and violations of ethical guidelines, but what really bothers me, praps more, on top of that, your agency is willfully ignoring sound science, you are making our water less safe to drink and our airless safe to breathe, you are crowing our exposure to dangerous chemicals and making the planet less healthy for our children and grandchildren,
that's not just hyperbole, the epa has weakened standards for oz oh, ne pollution, announced a repeal of the waters of the united states rule. abandoned a policy aimed to lock in the reduction of air pollution, withdrew the mercury rule. delayed the implementation of safety procedures in chemical plants, withdrew a proposal to track emissions of methane and organic compounds, proposed eliminating the lead risk reduction program, announced announced reconsideration of a rule regarding coal ash and admission standards. we did a lot of work in this committee on this vehicle emissions standards. you proposed repeal of emissions standards for heavy duty vehicles and brick and
tile manufacturers, you proposed a rule reducing air pollutants at sewage treatment plants, you have scubbed the comments area of with our website club explaining climate change, you have removed the word science from the office of science and technology. you have dismissed members of the board of scientific counselors. the epa has collected far fewer fines from polluters than any of the last three administrators during the same time and more staff and funding kids -- cuts are looming and the statues that protect all americans will not be enforced of the i will focus on an issue in the headlines, the paris agreement. by announcing that we will
abandon our commitment to the paris agreement, we heard this from mr. macron yesterday, this administration is setting the clock back on united states climate actions, the move will only open the door for others to take our place, this decision is bad for the planet and bad for public health. scientists at the epa and the global change research program found that climate change is a significant threat to the health of american people, increases the risk of illness and death from extreme heat and poor air quality. the paris groament was and still is our best chance to address these risks for all americans, but we cannot do it alone. you have supported the president's decision to withdraw from the agreement. you have said that the deal
unfairly puts constrains on the united states coal industry, but the agreement is voluntary, it imposes no constraints on united states domestic policy. but there and workers to lead the world in creating and lead providing newer, cleaner forms of energy, again yesterday, french president macron reminded us there is no plan b, that's a quote, return to our future and he said, quote, i'm sure one day the united states will come back and join the paris agreement and i'm sure we can work together to fulfill with you the ambitions of the global compact on the environment. i hope it is right for the sake of our children and grandchildren. to me an administrator should be someone who cares about these things not someone who is going to ruin these things, make our future more dangerous for our families. that's what bothers me because you're not doing -- >> the gentleman's time has expired. you're instead -- i'm finishing mr. chairman. you're instead -- >> finish quickly.
>> you are going against the tenants of what your job is supposed to do and that makes me very angry. >> gentleman from new jersey for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. my thanks to you and the ranking member for allowing me to participate. i'm a member of the committee but not of the subcommittee. administrator pruitt the epa has a long and distinguished history established by president nixon as you know better than anybody. i represent a district in northern new jersey outside new york and we are concerned about some of the allegations regarding the overspending. in particular, the $43,000 for the security of the phone booth. as you know, this has been criticized by the government accountability office, the general counsel, mr. arm strong, said you had a responsibility to notify lawmakers. you have indicated you believe
this is not part of renovations. having said that, isn't there other secure locations within your agency and why did we need to spend taxpayerp funds to build a new, secure place for making of telephone calls? >> first on the gao matter we have, in fact, notified the ngo with respect to the issues and rightfully so based upon their determination and i do want to say that the office of general counsel at the agency, career individual, interpreted the expenditure as not being within the guidelines of the statute and that's the reason the agency acted as they did. those were all individuals, career individual, a part of that process -- >> the gao disagrees with you. >> steps were taken to notify ir representative of that. >> i tend to agree with the general counsel. i want that on the record. why did we need another scif or scif-like facility when there is already one at your agency?
>> it's not a scif and not intended to be, as i shared earlier, congressman, in an earlier question, i simply requested for a secure communication, secure line in my office, based upon phone calls that occurred that are confidential in nature and so based upon that instruction, process ensued where this investment took place. and that's -- >> did any of your predecessors suggest this be needed, republican or democratic? >> i'm unsure, congressman. >> i think the answer is no. it's either a yes or no. i don't demand just a yes or no. you're willing to elaborate. did any of your predecessors suggest this? i'm not a person here who requires a yes or no. i would like you to answer in detail did any of your predecessors require that? >> i'm not aware of any requests. >> i am -- i have the honorp representing a predecessor of yours in christine todd whitman a constituent of mine, administrator for the second president bush and she indicated she saw no need for such an
enhanced telephone system when she was administrator and there was a secure communications then and she has indicated she did not think this was appropriate and respectfully i do not think it is appropriate and i think that there are already secure locations and it was a waste of funds. regarding a completely different issue, in a march 30th memo you stated, you signed a directive to give more authority to your office over environmental regulations for project near regional waterways. it is my view that taking this authority may sueplant the role of local representatives, experts and water quality boards. you have relied heavily on federalism and perhaps appropriately so for local and state control over suits against the epa. yet, it appears to me that your
directive suplants local control and would give you administrator final decision making authority over the protection of streams, ponds and wetlands under the clean water act. i would be interested in your views. it impresses me your views may have changed, administrator, now that you are the administrator from your position as attorney general. >> they haven't changed with respect to the collaboration with the states in that regard. i think what you're referring to is a decision to bring that delegation back from the regions and what we've seen, congressman, a great variation in consistency from one region to another with respect to the issues you've described and this is an effort at the agency to get uniformity and consistency across the regions, collaboration, consultation, will continue. both of the regions and with the states. >> thank you. i end my questioning by saying that i am concerned about what i believe is overspending. i'm particularly concerned about the secure location. it is my judgment that that was not needed and that is the
judgment certainly of at least one of your predecessors, a constituent of mine. >> and congressman, i agree with your statement. i believe that was an amount of money that should not have been spent and was never authorized. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> the chair recognizes the lady from illinois for five minutes. >> thank you. i would like to thank the chair and ranking member for allowing me, a member of the committee but not this subcommittee, to be here today. there's a lot of interest, secretary pruitt, in your testimony. and i also have been troubled by certain behaviors and it has been reported that your decision to abandon the planned fuel efficiency standards was heavily influenced by samantha dravis, one of the employees you brought with you from oklahoma who is now under investigation for receiving a salary from taxpayers despite not coming to work for three months.
you personally brought miss dravis on the job at epa when you became administrator, that is is that correct? >> she is not from oklahoma and she came in upon the start of our administration. are you referring to the midterm evaluation, the determination recently on the midterm evaluation. >> i'm going to continue with my questions. she was hired using the same safe drinking water act authority that was used to give unapproved raises to other staff that you did bring from oklahoma, is that correct? >> i'm not aware if she was hired under the safe drinking water act authority. there is authority on the safe drinking water act to determine certain individuals. it's legal, authorized, been used by previous administrators and it could have been used in that instance. i'm not aware. >> how much was samantha dravis paid for the three months during which she did not report to work? >> well, i'm not aware --
there's a pending investigation as you've indicated review of that and i'm not aware she did or did not report to work. >> senator carper has stated on the basis of information i believe from a whistleblower, has stated that he worked with you on a deal to preserve fuel efficiency standards. he has said that you abandoned that deal at the urging of samantha dravis. did samantha dravis urge you to abandon the potential deal with senator carper? >> i'm just not aware. i don't know if you're speaking of the midterm evaluation or another issue. i'm not -- i'm not sure what you're asking. >> regardless of what the source of the -- i mean these are pretty straightforward questions about her and the three months she -- are you contesting that she did not work for three
months? >> i'm not speaking to that at all. i'm not -- >> so i don't know what your point is about asking where it came from. i'm asking if she worked for three months without any -- she did not work for three months with pay. >> your question is about fuel efficiency and i'm not sure what the question was with respect to her regards. that's what i'm trying to determine what area you're talking about. i will say it this way, i'm not aware of any decision around fuel efficiency in that way. >> are you aware she was paid and did not work for three months? >> i'm not aware of any -- i know it's under review at this point and those facts will bear out. >> i wanted to ask you also, i have a little time left, aboyou vehicles. at the same time that the epa
has moved to increase fuel costs for american households you have reportedly asked taxpayers to cover the cost of a luxury suv for your use. is it true that the -- that as administrator you upgraded from a chev tahoe, which i know your predecessor used to a chevy suburban with leather interior and other luxury features? >> as i understand the decisions to add a vehicle to the fleet was something in process prior and they asked for input about the vehicle that i did not give direction to start that process or in that process. >> it is -- >> they asked for consultation. >> it isn't the first time in public service that you've upgraded your official vehicle as oklahoma attorney general, you upgraded to a big black suv when your predecessor used a sedan, is that correct? >> the sedan was something that went out of service and we had to replace that with an suv, yes. >> you had to replace it with an suv?
>> there was a replacement that occurred because of the other one coming out of service. >> so it's not just that it had to be replaced. it had to be replaced with a bigger, less fuel efficient and larger, more expensive car. so it just seems to me that this pattern that we've been hearing today of behavior is very concerning and i thank you for your answers. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from southwest missouri, mr. long, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, administrator pruitt, for being here today and i think it's been well established today that you have the most famous cone of silence since agent 86, but that's not where my questioning is going to go together. i have a 30-year career, had a 30-year career as a real estate broker before i came here and part of being a real estate broker it was very important to people the energy efficiency of their homes and when looking for a new home they looked for the
energy star certified program, the thing that complied with that. in your testimony you talk about the energy star program and how it helps businesses and consumers save money by reducing their energy use. the energy star program provides consumers with accurate information about what products and systems deliver high quality savings. as you know, i'm wondering if you could talk about the process involved with updating the energy star standards to include the most innovative and up-to-date technologies such as high performance hvac systems, which can outperform current energy star approved equipment? >> well the program to which you refer, congressman, has been extremely successful from a public/private partnership and there's actually a rule-making schedule that will occur in january of next year as i understand to establish fees that will support that program. i think the concern has been just the long-term stability and viability of the program. so we're in the process now of
preparing for that and it's something we're committed to and it's been very successful. >> okay. i think that it's important to both the regulator community and the public that the government speak with one consistent voice. i know from experience you talk to people if they call an irs office they may call seven different days and get eight different answers. and depending on which office they call. what are your plans for ensuring the epa's policy positions are implemented consistently across government, including the epa headquarters and the epa regional offices in litigation and enforcement? i would just use the irs as an example because that's somewhere a lot of people get a lot of different answers. >> it's an important question. we have ten regions across the country and what we've seen enforcement permitting many issues, great inconsistency. so we're in the process of going through a lean program at the
agency, evaluating -- >> i'm sorry. a what program? >> management program to ensure we are committed to metrics. >> what do you call it? >> it's lean. >> lean. >> okay. but i have a person, a coo, dedicated to ensure that we are setting metrics objectives at each of the regions and that there's verticality and uniformity to the headquarters to the regions and across the country, to assure on compliance, permitting, all the issues we don't see this dispersion and great variety. >> on these epa proposed rule revisions which recognize the importance of the states overseeing the program, regulating coal combustion individuals, i believe oversight is critical. has your agency given more thought to adjusting deadlines imposed under the existing federal rules so states have time to get their program developed and approved by the epa. >> there's been consideration yes. you make a great point about the
timeline that states need to develop their own programs. we provided guidance in that regard to the states but they need time to adopt and implement those programs. both are very important. trying to address the impending deadlines but also work with the states to achieve the start-up of their programs. >> with oklahoma being a neighbor to missouri, i'm sure that you know that electric power providers in missouri rely on a balanced portfolio including a large amount of coal for energy. is it your plan to take a timely repeal of the carbon regulations for power plants? >> >> if you're referring to the clean power plan of the previous administration that's in the marketplace today, yes. >> okay. and those regulations were dependent on the last epa's official finding that carbon endangers the environment. is epa planning on revisiting that endangerment finding also? >> our focus has been on the clean power plant and addressing
that. that's been our focus today. >> okay. mr. chairman i yield back. >> gentleman yields back the chair. >> thank you very much. mr. administrator i have been listening to your testimony here in the committee room and in my office watching it very constantly on television and i must tell you, this is very disturbing what i'm hearing today. one of the most alarming aspects that i've heard concerns your expenditures. i'm going to call them your outlandish expenditures on security. and what's even more alarming to me the fact that there has been an obvious practice of retaliation against epa employees who question your spending and you're a lawyer, i read your bio, you've been a civil servant many years and done a lot of great things, you must certainly know that whistleblower protections are essential to ensuring fairness and good government, but according to press accounts,
five epa staff members were fired or reassigned after questioning your spending, what you need to notify congress of expenditures over $5,000. the nonpartisan gao office has now validated those employees, finding that you broke the law, that's not the democrats or any other political group, that's the nonpartisan government accountability office, has now validated those employees finding you broke the law in failing to notify the congress. now, did you intend to -- do you intend to hold yourself or your staff accountable for this action? >> first i want to say i know of no instances, congressman where a decision has been made on employment status related to spending or any recommendations regarding spending. i've said that earlier and say it again to you now. >> but my point is -- notifying congress. >> that's an issue i've addressed a couple times here. office of general counsel,
career officials at the agency advised those folks going through the expenditure process they did not need to notify congress. gao came out and said otherwise. that notification has taken place. those individuals, those career individuals, that made the decision on that expenditure were following the advice and counsel and direct of what they knew to be right. >> it's your position you had no responsibility to notify congress of these expenditures. >> believe the decision has been remedied and should have been done at the beginning but it was not done and the question is, as they made those decisions who guided that. it was career individuals at the agency. >> i was further alarmed with the pattern that the pattern was extended to the head of the office of homeland security at epa who signed off on a february mem me finding you did not face direct death threats. that person was removed from his role, i'm told, the day the senate democrats revealed the existence of the memo. the timing of the move clearly suggested an effort to
intimidate, in my opinion, and to deter staff who might share their concerns with congress. any truth to that? >> i think the office who heads our human resource area would say the contemporary troy that. the -- contrary to that. the reference to a previous question about inspector general and their recitations of threats i can provide to you, congressman. the person to whom you refer does not have all the information with respect to the collection of threats. >> let me take you to question two, last month you moved to weaken protections from toxic coal ash which poses serious risks to human health and the environment. i had a coal ash spill if my state of north carolina and they're still mitigating that damage. the spill that occurred in kingston, tennessee, caused 30 premature deaths 200 serious illnesses among workers who cleaned up the spill and you have proposed weakening the protections despite the hard science proving the dangers caused by the spills. this is unacceptable. were you aware of these
worker -- severe worker impacts when you proposed weakening the coal ash rule? >> the specific examples you referred to no, i was not aware of those specific examples. >> last january you delayed essential protections for farm workers from dangerous pesticides including delaying protections for minors. that delay has now been thrown out. my staff says thrown out. you and i as lawyers would call it something different, dismissed by the courts. is that true or not true? >> no. it's my understanding there's a proposal to deal with the age requirements being considered but not been any final action on that. states as you know have age requirements as well and we're contemplating in that process whether those age requirements should be deferred to in this process. i'm not aware of it being final at this point. >> let me thank you for your testimony. i've listened as much as i could today. and again, i say i'm very disappointed with your record at the agency.
it's not commensurate with your record over many, many years in other capacities and your lack of concern for workers is what concerns me most of all. you've wasted taxpayer money. >> gentleman's time has expired. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> i appreciate it. thank you for allowing me to sit on this subcommittee. as you know i sit on the full committee. administrator pruitt, i want to talk about the environmental review and approval process for local projects. with the significant portion of my constituents living on florida's west coast i'm always concerned about hurricanes as you can understand as well as flooding. however our area only has two evacuation routes to move residents inland during an emergency. to alleviate this problem the pascal government initiated the ridge road extension product to create a third evacuation route.
they've been working on this since 1997. can you believe that? since 1997. for over 20 years the county has been treading through regulations, filling out forms, and meeting with federal officials to get this public safety project up and running. we're talking about a public safety project we need to save lives god forbid we had a disaster. while they met with some recent success and i've been working to help them out the project has not received final approval. administrator pruitt what has the agency done under your leadership to streamline the review of projects particularly when they involve public safety where lives could be on the line, in this case they definitely are on the line, and is permitting improvements something your epa work force
assessment, are they addressing these issues? >> it's actually -- absolutely a priority. we began an effort last year before we arrived at the agency, they didn't know how long it took to go through the permitting process. i asked that question upon arrival to give me an idea about the length of time that it took for permitting and they didn't know the answer. we've evaluated that data and i know this won't surprise you, it takes a long time. you've cited your example. by the end of 2018, we are making changes internal to the agency that decision that we make on permits up or down will occur within six months starting in january of '91. as you know this is an interagency approach as well and we're collaborating with the corps of engineers around theses issues and making sure that we have consistency in working with them. >> so you say within six months, beginning in 2019? >> at the end of this year we'll have a plan in place to execute upon as we begin january of '19. >> okay. on the same point, the president
released an infrastructure plan, of course, as you know, which included sixships on per -- sections on permitting improvement. one agency, one decision. is that what you're referring to, environmental review structure? another is allowing for localities to complete a single environmental review document for a project. are these things that you could support? >> i do support and i think these are great recommendations that have been made as part of the infrastructure package the president has made and something i hope congress adopts. whether it's adopted or not we are advancing the six month review process internal to the agency. >> as far as you know, there are a lot of local goftsz that can't afford to hire high priced consultants as you know. so this is very, very important to them. they shouldn't be penalized because they can't afford to hire these high priced consultants. my area over the years there's been a lot of money on this project and -- but i'm sure that there are examples all over the
country where it's taken many, many years. i appreciate you working with me on this and hopefully we get approval soon? thanks, congressman. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back his time. the chair recognizes the lady from florida for five minutes. >> thank you, chairman shim cuss, for allowing me to participate in the hearing today. mr. pruitt, your pattern of unethical conduct and conflicts of interest are now very well known. but i'm very troubled today by your failure to take personal responsibility for your actions. you simply dismissed all of the ethical lapses at the beginning of your testimony as troubling media reports. so i think that's a failure in leadership. but the point i want to make today is that those costs, your wasteful spending, those costs pale in comparison to the damage
you are doing to the health of american families and the assault on our clean air and clean water protections, our protections against dangerous chemicals and pesticides. highlighted the issue of the dangerous paint stripper at the beginning that is known to have caused over 50 deaths and yet the epa, under your administration, now as you say we have stalled and don't a final decision. in essence you've turned a blind eye to those families. there's also the case of a dangerous nerve agent, it's in the same chemical class as sarin, there was a recommendation by epa scientists when you came in, the last administration said we're going to propose very significant restrictions to protect babies, children, young people under 18, you came in and turned that
around and said no, this is -- it's not final. but you've set a pattern here. america's pediatricians are outraged, public health advocates are outraged and so am i because we're talking about the development of brain in babies and children, we're talking about not just children that might be in farm lands but they live and work or they live and play in those areas. there were a lot of kids in the audience and parents who care about this a great deal. it's take your child to work day. that was good to have them in here. my first question is why are corporate polluter profits more important to you than the health of families and children? >> well, on the issue ranking member pallone brought up and you've raised, i would ask you not to jump to conclusions that there's a final process there. the previous administration -- >> but there is a pattern, there is a pattern. and -- >> i'm trying to respond.
>> you know, your actions belie what you say. when your epa scientists and public health advocates and pediatricians all say here is the ban and you come into office and time and time again, you -- you're siding with the special interests and not with tpublic interests. >> that's one of the ten priority chemicals we're reviewing that you authorized. >> you're right. that was a recommendation that was the action of this committee and you've -- you've set the pattern and really whatever you can say today, i think people need to look at your actions rather than your rhetoric. but in addition to your failure to take any responsibility, i have to say that i'm disappointed in a lot of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle that have let the catastrophe off t administrator off the took today. a few exceptions and my hat's off to them. maybe they're trying to save his job because they're worried if he doesn't perform well today he could be fired.
several congressional republicans have already publicly called for your firing, but unfortunately none on this committee. either way it's embarrassing that most of the republicans refuse to take this committee's oversight responsibility seriously and hold you accountable. they claim to have requested documents from the administration regarding administrator's misconduct and conflicts of interest but there's no evidence of any investigation. the democrats on this committee we have sent numerous inquiries to epa, office of inspector general, gao, office of special counsel and some of those have borne out and you've been found in violation of the law. unfortunately, we have yet to see any real effort from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. so i have been keeping a list today as well, mr. administrator, of the unanswered questions because you often say it's not final, we're looking at this, the jury is out, but you
failed to give direct responses on a number of questions so mr. chairman, i would like to submit this list for the record of the endless string of questions that administrator pruitt has not answered today. >> let us look at that and pass it over here, please. >> will do. >> and finally, close out by saying -- >> the time has expired. >> you violated it sflooshs the gentle lady time has expired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. mr. pruitt i've been watching you during the hearing and you have the bearing of a man who thinks he's untouchable. i don't know if that's true or not. i would be careful of that. i don't think americans go for that. and in your position they just want you to protect their air, protect clean water and they want you to conserve the land. as has been said by many of my colleagues your tenure has been swamped with ongoing legal and ethical nurse -- ethical
failure. you often provide no advance notice of where you're going to be, agency career staff we're told have been instructed not to take notes or carry their cell phones. and this level of secrecy has forced a lot of citizens to take the avenue of filing freedom of information act requests. i understand that epa political leadership has added a new layer of so-called awareness reviews to those requests which can delay the release of information to the public and also limit the amount of information redacted in the responses, are you aware that your political appointees are conducting these reviews before information is released to the public? >> first let me say that there's been no instruction not to take notes or to carry phones. that's simply fabricated. with respect to the process you're referring to, the foy ya process is governed by statute. >> you have set up these political appointees to do review, are you aware of that. >> no. the office of general counsel is
conducting reviews. >> we're limited here. if that was done that's a pretty clever move. we wrote to you last year with concerns about carl icahn's role as special adviser on regulations, potential conflicts of interests due to his financial holdings and outspoken positions on the renewable fuel standards programs so here we are a year later, the epa's implementation of the rfs program, specifically the small refinery waiver position is under fire from farmers and refiners. my colleague, mr. green, raised the issue, secret waivers. i want to build on that and want to know about cvr energy in which carl icahn owns a majority stake. administrator pruitt, you met with representatives from carl icahn's company, cvr energy in june of 2017, is that correct? >> if that's what the calendar represents. >> did carl icahn's company apply for a waiver from eat until blending requirements for
its refining facilities? >> i'm not sure. >> we'll look at the record. did carl icahn's company receive a waiver for any of its refining facilities. >> these are governed by statute. >> you're going to find that out and we would appreciate your following up. that's important to know. it raises serious questions about conflicts of interest. i've had the privilege of chairing here in the congress the democracy reform task force. we've been trying to keep up with the ethical lapses of the trump administration which i will tell you is kind of a full-time job. and you certainly have been at the center of some of that focus. to date, five independent federal investigations have been initiated at committee's request and more than eight independent federal reviews are currently under way with respect to your office. yesterday, the democracy reform task force released another report in a series that's looking at failures and ethical
lapses within the trump administration, this one was detailing your wasteful spending and favors for your friends that put the interest of dirty polluters ahead of the american people. this is now available for people to take a look at. it goes through the litany of ethical violations that have come to characterize and be it the hallmark of your time in office. you've become -- it's sad to say it, but you've become in many respects and you ought to take this to heart as somebody who holds an office in the public trust, you're wearing that mantle today, that office of public trust, as head of the epa, something people care deeply ability, you're going to wear mantle and exercise attention to the public interest and not the private interest. unfortunately, you've become the poster child for the abuse of
public trust. and this goes back a long way. you brought your way of approaching these public offices to the epa. and it's undermined the credibility of that organization. but it's a hallmark of the trump administration and we're going to continue to demand answers and we're going to continue to hold you accountable and every hearing you choose to be up here, i give you credit for coming today, but we will continue to hold you accountable for the dereliction of duty we see. with that i yield back my time. chair recognizes the chairman from vermont. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, you, with mr. flores and i have been working on ethanol. mr. pruitt, i've heard and read reports as a result of the pressure on midwest ag, in response to the retaliatory tariffs by china, that there is a move by some to increase ethanol usage. can you comment on that very briefly? >> well, are you referring to
the rvp waiver? >> that's rigcorrect. >> we've been actively evaluating the legal authority under the statute to grant the rpv waiver for the last several months and the reason it's taken some time -- >> i want to interrupt. what i'm talking about, apriorate the work on ethanol my colleagues have done, but what is reported is as a result of the tariffs that china is imposing on soybeans and grain there is going to be a concession from the trump administration to go to e 15. i will leave it there. i do want to ask you questions along the lines of how you've been running your department. is it the case that any of your predecessors, republican or democrat, who have had the high responsibility as administrator of the epa have had a 20 person security detail? >> i'm unaware of previous
considerations in that regard. >> is it not relevant what the precedence has been with republican and democratic administrators in the past? >> i'm not aware, congressman, of the processes prior to my time at the agency on what was considered and what wasn't considered. >> did the taxpayers spend $30,000 for a security detail to accompany you on the trip to disney land? >> i'm unsure about that. we took -- >> that's knowable. >> yeah. >> if the records show that. >> all right. so you could determine this. it's not like secret stuff. >> the detail, the law enforcement make the determinations on what type of security should be provided. >> i've been listening to a lot of answers, and it's somebody else knows it, starting to seem like there's a -- there's something on your desk with a motto that says, the buck stops nowhere. you're the guy whose in charge. >> yet, congressman i've made decisions to switch and make sure to make changes from first class back to coach, rescinded
the pay raises to those individuals. >> i get it. but -- >> in fact, that's happened. >> let me ask you, just about this phone booth, because it's a metaphor. are you aware at epa headquarters, there are two secure facilities where private phone calls could be secure? >> and again, i didn't request the scif. i requested a secure communication not accessible to my office. >> i understand that. you're the boss. so you tell your folks that you want a secure way of communicating. reasonable request. they're going to accommodate it. the boss is the one who has to make certain that it's a reasonable imposition on taxpayers. >> in this instance the process failed. as i indicated into my opening statement those processes will be changed. >> here's the question a lot of people would ask, republican or democrat, how can i make a secure phone call? and the answer would be, well, mr. pruitt, there happens to be two places in the building right
close to your office where you can do that. had you asked that -- >> they're not right close to my office. >> well, is -- how often do you have to use your secret phone booth? >> it's for confidential communications and it's rare. >> okay. so on those rare occasions, is it too much to ask you to walk whatever distance it takes for you to get to that -- >> i guess it depends on the nature of the kau and how urgent the call is. >> the point is you have two locations that you can go to when you have to make those rare, secure phone calls. this is taxpayer money. it's taxpayer money. let me ask you this, do you have installed or were there installed biometric locks on your office? >> there were problems with locks on two of the three doors and changes were made to those locks. no instruction was given for biometric locks but that was made by these individuals. >> these things just happened? >> there was a process at the agency in that regard and an
evaluation. >> what's ap biometric lock? >> i'm not sure. >> is it a case you don't know how to open your door. what is a biometric lock? >> i don't know. i put a code in. >> biometric lock is -- it responds as i understand it to like fingerprints or some other eye -- your eyes, some physical characteristic. >> that's my understanding as well. >> all right. so you have them, right? >> those are on -- those have been added to the office, yes. >> why? >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from iowa. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you for allowing me to sit on the subcommittee. mr. pruitt, i share a lot of the concerns my colleagues have voiced today on the ethics front, but i'm here to talk about an issue that as you might imagine i'm from iowa, so of utmo utmost importance to my state and district, you stated that
you had worked to uphold the renewable fuel standard and over the last two years, president trump has pledged on numerous occasions to support the rfs. in fact, time and time again. he's pledged to support it. however over the last several weeks information has been revealed that makes me question that commitment as you might imagine. various reports have indicated that the epa has granted so-called economic hardship exemptions to numerous refiners who appear to be neither small or financially distressed. do you know what the law says it has to be 75,000 gallons or less to be granted that economic hardship waiver. i can tell you i've heard from my constituents, farmers and many others, and from farmers across the kwhounts are troubled by this action and this comes at a particularly difficult time in farm country as you know. when we've had low prices, we've seen farm income trending downward. industry profits are soaring. i'm extremely disappointed in
the action as you might imagine and the lack of transparency and accountability in the process also unaccept under section 211 of the clean air act the epa administrator required to reassign gallons to other parties. because this entire waiver process has happened without any transparency whatsoever, i'm disappointed, my constituents are disappointed and we really have no idea whether those gallons have been reassigned as required by law, so my first question, mr. pruitt, yes or no, have you reassigned these gallons as required by law. >> it's my understanding that the process has happened as it's supposed to. >> we will need that. how do you plan to reassign them the gallons you waive for going forward for the 2019? >> i think your question is very important with respect to the volume obligation, congressman, and when you think about the commitment of this administration, the point was denied as you know.
that was a dbig issue. >> i'm talking about the waivers. i would like to move on. yes or no, do you intend to inform the committee and public about details such as which refiners received the waiver? >> subject to the confidential business information or other information, that would be the only thing that would noticeable available. >> we just want to know who got these waivers. not why necessarily. i can't understand why that would be considered confidential business information. reports have indicated 25 refiners received waivers from their obligations, is that number accurate? >> that was in 2017. the applications are still pending in 2018. >> what is the numbers at the moment? >> it's over that number for 2018 as i understand it. >> did you discuss these exemptions with the white house? >> there's ongoing discussions with the white house on various issues at the program. >> who at the white house specifically was involved? >> the nec, in consultation with the air office. >> did you brief the president on these waivers? >> as i indicated this was dialog among staff members at
our shop, so -- >> has anybody explained to the president the substantial impact that these waivers have on the ethanol industry, some of us have made a billion gallons. >> i'm sure it's come up in many discussions. >> you told me and many others epa is studying whether it has the legal authority to grant the rvp waiver, the last time i waived on this committee and we talked about that issue and that seems like it's taking quite a while for many of us and in corn country and with the president's recent remarks referenced here, in e 15 i'm wondering what the hold up is? >> trying to ensure that legal basis is solid because there will be litigation that will ensue. >> do you plan to move forward and grant the rvp waiver and allow year-round sales of -- >> i intend to finish that process soon. >> hopefully the sooner the better. this is something that is important not only to my district, many folks around the country. we're looking forward to that. and, of course, refinery executives have called your action on the hardship waivers
to go back to that, quote, giving out trick-or-treat candy to the industry. i'm here to tell you farmers are disappointed by this, they've been waiting by years for the e-15 waiver and mr. chairman, i think this program is in need of substantial oversight, the waiver program, certainly the e-15 as well, and these actions i don't think can happen in secret, that was addressed earlier in the hearing. we need to make sure these waivers are not abused as a financial windfall for special interests and i yield back. thank you very much. >> les the chair recognizes the gentleman from new mexico. >> administrator pruitt, you seem to view the epa budget as a personal slush fund. redirecting resources to your personal travel, that should go to environmental protection. during your tenure you spent more than $160,000 on travel in first class on private jets and
on military craft. public office is a public trust. and i think flying coach is the least we can do to deserve that trust. my question for you is this, when you are paying for your own airfare with personal funds, do you fly coach? >> i follow the security recommendations of my team when i pay for it personally as well. >> will you commit to reimbursing taxpayers for your luxury travels? >> you refer to it as luxury travel and the $160,000 that you refer to, pales in comparison to the previous administration's. you're referring to international travel. i too two international trips. the previous administration took multiple trips and spent far more than that. these decisions about security detail, who attends and what they do to provide protection happen according to law enforcement recommendations and that what i followed. >> it's been reported by epa ethics officials on at least two personal trips you flew on coach on southwest using a companion pass from ken wagner.
your subordinate at the epa. clearly a plane ticket has more than nominal value. are you aware that federal ethics rules prohibit you from accepting gifts from subordinates? >> that's not represented accurately what you said. we flew like car pooling, shared costs from oklahoma. >> did ken wagner give you the boarding pass. >> no gift whatsoever. >> i think that those ethics officials will continue to look into that. mr. pruitt, your travels since becoming administrator has taken you to morocco, italy and luxury resorts around the united states. we heard from kevin, a political apinty, you told staffers to, quote, find me something to do in order to schedule travel to your desired destinations. it seems your desired destinations have rarely included low-income communities or communities of color with risk. those at risk are the most unable to pay for your attention
and concern of your extensive travel spending how much would you say you spend visiting low-income communities and communities of color? >> i wouldn't consider east chicago i've made trips there, region 5 this week, and houston as indicated earlier, the trip to italy was g7 trip occurring a week after the paris decision. i was there for four days. around the g7. there was a free trade agreement that is in existence in morocco and the ambassador invited me to negotiate the environmental chapter on the free trade agreement. those are important to the scope of our duets at the me. >> you've gone to great lengths to keep your calendar secret but what's come out it's clear most of your meetings of stakeholder have been with industry and not impacted communities. we can agree with that. do you see the problem to granting -- >> i've meat with stake holders across the countries on the issues. people we regulate. their voices have not been heard for many years. the farmers and ranchers, they are the first environmentalists
and conservationists. >> do you understand you have a responsibility to protect the health and environment of low-income minority and tribal communities? >> absolutely. >> as epa administrator you have directed policy changes made with disproportionately harm to low-income minority, tribal and indigenous communities. the repeal by my colleague, miss dingell, weakening of coal ash regulations is another. mr. pruitt, today you repeatedly blamed your chief of staff, your chief counsel, career officials, or others. are you the epa administrator? >> i said that in my opening statement and didn't blame anyone. i just simply shared facts. >> mr. administrator, it's a simple yes or no question. are you the epa administrator? >> i take responsibility and have made changes and making changes going forward and i have not failed to take responsibility. i've simply cited the facts of what occurred. >> it's a simple question. are you the epa administrator?
>> yes. >> just to be clear, do you run the epa? >> i do. >> yes or no, are you responsible for the many, many scandals plaguing the epa? >> i've responded to many of those questions here today with facts and administration. -- information. >> are you able to answer that yes or no. >> that's not a yes or no. >> it's simple it's a yes or no answer. there is clear concern with what's been happening not just by entire congress and i appreciate you being here today, but these questions need to be asked and answered. >> we have answered them today. >> you are not the only one that has been doing these ugly things, these horrific things, these scandal plagued things in this administration and i hope this is one of many hearings that this committee will have so we can get to the bottom of this and make sure taxpayers are made whole. >> the gentleman's time has expired. seeing there are no further members wishing to ask questions i would like to thank our witness for being here today. before we conclude i would like to ask unanimous consent to submit the following documents,
letters to the chairman ranking member from lauren atkins, report from gao on epa's use of fiscal year 2017 appropriations, letter from the american association for the advancement of science, mr. rush holt, article from the roanoke times, questions from miss caster, letter from the american geophysical union, letter from 985 scientists, in pursuant to committee rules remind members ten business days to submit additional questions for the record and i ask that witnesses submit their questions within ten business days upon receipt of the questions. without objection this subcommittee is adjourned. >> been a while since i stood up. >> i know, yeah.
epa administrator scott pruitt wrapping up his testimony before the house energy and commerce subcommittee on president trump's budget for the epa. we're going to be showing the hearing again in its entirety ih just a moment. a brief look at secretary robin pruitt's tenure as epa administrator. >> robin joins us now about 30 h minutes beforee epa administrato scott pruitt set tor appear before the house energy and commerce committee for his firso of two congressional hearings today. you wrote earlier this week that even some of president trump's h staff think that o scott pruitt may be fired soon. so how much of his job securityt
depends on his performance at these two hearings today?is >> you know, a job lot of scott pruitt watchers think his job iu on the line right now.ormance. it seems pretty certain president trump is going to be d watching hisis performance.o i've heard it speculated that pr president trump mightui be sortf deciding what to do about scotta pruitt based on what he says today.wh >> well, let'sat talk about wha he's going to be asked about, some of the issues he's not thin going to have togs t answer, se$ things that have50 come up in t past weeks and months. >> yeah. >> start with the $50 a night condo. scocoa scott pruitt rented a $50 a night condo from a couple of lv lobbyists on capitol hill.l.he s pretty swanky. a lot of lawmakers live nearby. so he's come under fire for that, people who think it's notm ethical for him to be representing a cheap room from h business before his agency. >> and b soudge what else is he to be answering for? >> these are budget hearings, these were originally designed p as budget hearings topr talk abt
epa's annual appropriations, but the ethics alleges cometh out. he's going to be asked about all of those, which is pay raises for some of his closest staff members, a $43,000 soundproof booth in his office, some of his security spending, his 24/7 around-the-clock security o that detail, pricey flights, a trip to morocco that dealt with something that's outside of epa's jurisdiction, that's all going to come up today. >> thissab is the editorial carh in "usa today" talking about a swamp proof booth. and there with the label scott pruitt sitting at his desk needa underneath the swam. why did he need a soundproof booth at the epa? >> his justification for it is that epa and other cabinet levep officials deal with sensitive information, so he needs a place to do that. he upgraded it. epa has had a cu