Charles Grassley of Iowa, a leading supporter of corn-based ethanol, says he'll call for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt's resignation if Pruitt doesn't work to fulfill federal ethanol mandates.
Shelley Moore Capito pressed the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday over recently released emails that show White House and EPA officials attempted to delay a new federal standard for C-8 and other similar toxic water-polluting chemicals, which have for decades been detected in several water systems in the Ohio Valley. "You have used your office to enrich yourself at the expense of the American people". A whistleblower said Pruitt lied about not retaliating against aides who questioned his decisions.
The study would show that the chemicals - known as PFOA and PFOS - are unsafe to humans in much smaller quantities than the Environmental Protection Agency has previously said, Politico reported this week. That review came months later and the ethics office has since said it is revisiting the issue.
Pruitt has been under pressure from mainly Democratic lawmakers in recent weeks over a series of controversies ranging from his use of first-class travel to his 24/7 security detail and costly office renovations.
Leahy said the cascade of scandals "are an embarrassment to the agency; they are an embarrassment to Republicans and Democrats alike".
Pruitt repliec, "well again, HHS is a participant in that summit next week". "The agency should not have done that".
Pruitt also revealed under questioning that he has set up a legal defense fund.
"Well then, you won't be accepting anonymous donations or the rules won't allow that", Van Hollen retorted.
The EPA chief said his attorney is working with the Government Accountability Office to make sure the fund is established appropriately.
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Pruitt said, "I share your concerns about some of these decisions".
That provided a rare moment of agreement in the hearing, as Tester replied: "I agree with you on that, and I think it's really really important, but talk is cheap, and people and resources are important because these things don't go away unless we spend what we need".
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt faced a bipartisan lashing at a Senate Interior-Environment Appropriation Subcommittee hearing where agency scandals largely eclipsed discussion of the fiscal 2019 budget. The hearing was largely partisan and sparsely attended, with several senators absent and often as few as two or three sitting in for testimony.
"Instead of being asked about the work that you are doing on WOTUS [Waters of the United States] or the Clean Power Plan or the Superfund program, I am being constantly asked to comment on security, on housing and on travel", Murkowski said. Former EPA officials have told The Associated Press that Pruitt made the change after Perrotta's predecessor refused to use lights and sirens in non-emergency situations, such as when the administrator was running late for dinner reservations or going to the airport. EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox did not respond to a question Tuesday about whether Pruitt was now flying coach. Cindy Hyde-Smith of MS, who thanked Mr. Pruitt for visiting her state and overhauling the EPA.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski - chair of the Appropriations subcommittee - said in her opening remarks that she welcomed some of Pruitt's regulatory agenda but the ethics issues were a distraction.
But not all the criticism came from Democrats.
When grilled about specific incidents - including an official agency tweet in April mocking Democrats voting against the confirmation of an EPA official - Pruitt repeatedly refused to apologize.
"All activity that I'm aware of that was engaged in by the individual that you're speaking about occurred in personal time".