The Environmental Protection Agency’s staff of criminal investigators is dedicating its dwindling manpower to protecting—but not of the environmental kind.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Scott Pruitt, the EPA’s chief, requires an unusually high number of people on his security detail. So many agents, it seems, are needed to protect Pruitt that the already understaffed agency is being forced to pull investigators from the field.
Since he took office in February, Pruitt has had a security detail of 18 officers from the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division who would otherwise be probing environmental crimes. Pruitt’s protection cost the department $832,735 in the first quarter of his tenure at the agency. The division only has 147 agents, so losing 18 to Pruitt’s staff of body guards makes investigating environmental crimes difficult. They’re not happy about it, per The Post:
“This never happened with prior administrators,” said Michael Hubbard, a former special agent who led the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division office in Boston.
Hubbard, along with other former and current employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal security issues, said agency investigators in Boston, Denver and other regional offices have been tapped for stints as part of Pruitt’s security detail.
Why are they unhappy? Because it’s not their job:
“These guys signed on to work on complex environmental cases, not to be an executive protection detail,” Hubbard said. “It’s not only not what they want to do, it’s not what they were trained and paid to do.”
Although it’s fairly normal for EPA administrators to have security details, Pruitt’s predecessors Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson only had teams of six people, according to The Post. Pruitt, who has spearheaded President Trump’s dedication to slicing the EPA’s staff and budget, has even sought to circumvent the federal government’s hiring freeze to hire more people to protect him.
Apparently there are “some very personal, ugly threats” being lobbed in Pruitt’s direction, but when you’re the force behind Trump’s pursuit of nonrenewable energy (and earth’s annihilation), I suspect that comes with the territory.