EPA Administrator announces roll backs of Obama-era emission standards

White House frustrated with EPA's Pruitt for apartment controversy

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"This is another step in the President's regulatory agenda, de-regulatory agenda. a billion dollars in savings with respect to over 22 significant regulatory actions that we've been involved in here at the agency", Pruitt said at EPA headquarters Tuesday. The swirling scandals have caused headaches for White House aides, and after Trump recently fired former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, as well as other Cabinet members and top administration officials in the past year, it's unclear where Pruitt's future stands.

Mr Pruitt, a conservative who previously served as Oklahoma's attorney-general, is also one of several members of United States President Donald Trump's Cabinet who have come under scrutiny for their travel practices.

The White House did not respond to a request for specific comment on the new questions being raised about the EPA head. The California waiver is still being reexamined by EPA under Administrator Pruitt's leadership.

"This discrepancy is further evidence of the need for the EPA Inspector General to conduct an investigation to determine if misconduct or mismanagement led to said OGC decision, and whether the Ethics Office was influenced in any improper manner", they wrote.

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Beck's appointment was also emblematic of Pruitt's close ties to the industries he is bound to regulate.

ABC News and Bloomberg News reported last week that during his first six months in Washington previous year, Pruitt made a deal to pay about $50 a night - less than a third the price of similar properties - to rent a room in a Capitol Hill neighborhood condo building co-owned by energy industry lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife.

Travel records obtained through a public records request showed that Pruitt spent more than $17,000 in taxpayer money for a December trip to Morocco to promote USA exports of LNG.

"The idea wasn't fully baked", said the source, but it comes at a time when the Trump administration is targeting imports, notably placing tariffs on steel and aluminum. Last year, the EPA signed off on a pipeline expansion project by the company. Under the lease, Pruitt technically rented only one of the condo's two bedrooms but his daughter stayed in the second room from May to August.

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EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox has said the arrangement was not a gift and the lease was "consistent with federal ethics regulations". Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, two vulnerable Democrats who are up for re-election this year in states Trump won in 2016, joined almost every Republican in voting to approve Pruitt's nomination.

Trump has not identified a replacement for Pruitt should he decide to fire him, multiple senior officials said, and he remains enthusiastic about the progress his EPA has made toward deregulation and environmental rollbacks.

The ethics issues do not appear to have undercut Pruitt's ability to deliver on his promises at the EPA, which hinge on environmental deregulation.

Since he was confirmed to the job last February, Pruitt has taken an aggressive approach to rolling back Obama-era regulations, most recently this week's announcement that he would revise fuel efficiency rules created to cut back on emissions of greenhouse gases.

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The rules set in 2012, known as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy or CAFE standards, sought to reduce pollutants released into the air by gradually increasing fuel efficiency across all models offered by manufacturers to 54.5 miles per gallon (4.32 liters per 100 kilometers), compared to 35.5 miles per gallon in 2016.

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