The EPA, the agency he runs, is poised to cut the budgets of major health and safety programs
The administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency, historically, has had some measure of government-funded personal security detail. Agents routinely picked Gina McCarthy from the airport, for example, or accompanied her on site visits during her time as EPA administrator from July 2013 to Jan 2017. But Scott Pruitt, the new EPA chief, wishes to be guarded 24/7.
While the draft budget for the EPA obtained by the Washington Post this month shows massive cuts to environment, health, and climate change programs—including the elimination of a program to prevent childhood exposure to lead paint—it also includes a request to hire 10 additional security guards to create an around-the-clock personal security detail for Pruitt, the New York Times reports.
The Times calls it a first for an EPA chief, and notes that the 10 additional agents would more than double the agency’s current security staff, which has hovered between six and eight agents in recent years. Similarly, security detail for education secretary Betsy DeVos has reached unprecedented levels: Typically, the secretary of education is guarded by about six agents from within the Department of Education. Since her contentious confirmation, DeVos has been under the protection of the US Marshals Service, costing $8 million over eight months.
What security menace is Pruitt guarding against? According to Myron Ebell, who led Trump’s EPA transition team but is no longer employed by the administration, Pruitt is at risk from his own employees—and “the left.”
“I think it’s prudent given the continuing activities by the left to foment hatred, and the reported hostility within the agency from some unprofessional activists,” Ebell told E&E News.
EPA staff have reportedly been anticipating the security bulk-up for some time. In an email obtained by E&ENews, EPA’s criminal enforcement office chief emailed staff shortly before Pruitt’s mid-February confirmation to warn them of the change: “Based on conversations with the transition team, we anticipate that Mr. Pruitt will initially request a 24/7 detail.”