The EPA's new Office of Continuous Improvement ignores some important details

Scott Pruitt

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will be back on Capitol Hill this week. C-SPAN

Pruitt, under pressure from Congress for his high travel and security spending as America's top environmental regulator, has said his 24-hour security was installed due to unusual threats against him.

The Associated Press reported last month that Pruitt's preoccupation with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers, as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.

Just recently, it was revealed that Pruitt had demanded heightened security, lasting for 24 hours during all seven days of a week on his first day at the EPA in 2017.

"EPA's Protective Service Detail began providing 24/7 coverage of the Administrator the first day he arrived", wrote Inspector General Arthur Elkins after Democratic Sens.

The inspector general released the detail in a letter to Democratic Senator Tom Carper of DE, who had asked the office how and why Pruitt was getting 24-hour protection.

His security was worth more than $3 million. "The decision was made by the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training after being informed that Mr. Pruitt requested 24/7 protection once he was confirmed as Administrator".

But Pruitt has justified the need for the detail - unprecedented among EPA leaders - with what he's called a "threat assessment", in which the OIG a year ago tallied a number of potential threats it investigated against him. Pruitt's immediate predecessor, Gina McCarthy, typically had a security detail that accompanied her to work each day, to meetings and events, and dropped her off at home each night.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the new "Office of Continuous Improvement" on Monday.

Agency spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement Monday that "as the report says, EPA's Office of Inspector General does not determine security assessments".

Pruitt's agency has also long claimed that his extensive security detail was justified because he and his family have received death threats dating back to 2017.

The chief said he had left the decision of security measures and his traveling decisions to Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, the special agent in charge of protecting the EPA head.

Perrotta, who has been under scrutiny for the expenditures related to Pruitt's security and travel, retired from the agency late last month.

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