WASHINGTON — There is new information about threats against the head of the environmental protection agency, Scott Pruitt. The agency is taking these threats seriously and moving quickly.
Scott Pruitt is rapidly expanding his security force to an unprecedented level.
CNN has learned the EPA is in the process of hiring and training a dozen new agents to provide 24/7 protection for Pruitt.
Salaries alone could cost $2 million, not including training, equipment or travel.
The agency says the level of protection is dictated and determined by the level of threat.
Pruitt faces 4 to 5 times more death threats than his predecessors, according to the Epa’s Inspector General Office.
As security spending increases, pruitt hopes to cut the epa’s budget by 30%, including major cuts to the agency’s enforcement work and staffing.
Pruitt’s schedule lists more than 100 meetings with the fossil fuel industry but only five with environmental groups.
“Well, it’s very clear that EPA Administrator Pruitt is trying to cripple the agency. He’s trying to slash the budget, he’s trying to keep the agency from doing its job of protecting public health and our environment. It’s very worrisome,” said Eric Olson with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
A former executive, Nancy Beck, who worked for the chemical industry, is now in charge of shaping the EPA rules on hazardous chemicals.
The New York Times reported Beck insisted the agency rewrite a rule to make it harder to track the health consequences of PFOA, a chemical linked to health problems like kidney cancer, birth defects and immune system disorders.
And last month the EPA made a reversal on what’s considered safe levels of exposure to radiation.
EPA guidelines now says radiation exposures of 5 to 10 rem usually result in no harmful health effects.
That’s the equivalent of 5,000 chest x-rays, according to Public Employees For Environmental Responsibility.
“There are many industries that have been pushing hard to roll back these rules. Some of them are in the nuclear industry, some of them are in the hazardous waste industry, some of them are in the chemical industry,” Olson says. “And Scott Pruitt has been meeting secretly with literally scores of these corporate executives, quietly behind the scenes.”
But the EPA is pushing back on the idea that pruitt is turning a blind eye to bad actors in industry.
The agency pointing to an interview in Time magazine when Pruitt discussed his partnership with industry.
He was quoted as saying; “I don’t spend any time with polluters. I prosecute polluters. What I’m spending time with are stakeholders who care about outcomes.”
Also Monday, the EPA blocked its own scientists from speaking about climate change at a conference in Rhode Island.
The agency said they’d allow the scientists to attend but not speak and wouldn’t give an explanation for why, only saying it wasn’t an EPA event.
In addition, the EPA website has been altered to remove or change language related to climate change.
And environmentalists say this is one more example of the EPA trying to silence scientists.