EPA's Pruitt says pay raises for aides 'should not have happened'

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"This is just the first step in a longer process", he said, "and the Trump EPA is going to be resisted by some very good lawyers from the states and other organizations, every step along the way".

One possible reason Kelly hasn't followed through, some White House officials and lobbyists told Politico, is because Pruitt has been extremely effective in carrying out Trump's aggressive anti-environment agenda.

"We have nothing to be apologetic about with respect to the progress we've made in reducing emissions as a country", Pruitt said.

Pruitt, a former attorney general of Oklahoma, a major oil producer, has been criticized by politicians after reports that he paid well below market rates to live in a condo owned by a lobbyist who deals with issues overseen by his agency. Apartments in the neighborhood generally cost more.

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Pruitt didn't respond to questions from reporters at an event Tuesday morning in Washington.

"Do I think that's something that folks don't like?"

"There's all sorts of flexibility compliance mechanisms that (President Barack) Obama's EPA and Department of Transportation put into these fuel-economy standards to make sure they were feasible", LeBel said. "Absolutely. And it's frustrating", Pruitt was quoted as saying. Pruitt is now under investigation by the EPA's inspector general and the House Oversight Committee.

Pruitt's "corruption scandals are an embarrassment to the Administration, and his conduct is grossly disrespectful to American taxpayers". "It's time for him to resign or for @POTUS to dismiss him". He is getting all this flak from Democrats because he has managed to cut back on environmental regulations, he argues.

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During an appearance on MSNBC on Monday, former White House ethics official and vice-chairman at Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington Richard Painter called Pruitt's room rental "disgusting" and argued it is a clear "violation of the gift rule".

Free-market conservatives who look to Pruitt as a crusader pushing to upend Obama-era regulations on climate change and vehicle pollution have been nonplussed. "Scott, keep your head up. We are now revising that at that White House".

A White House official, asked for comment, said only that the two calls had taken place and would not elaborate.

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