Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas praised EPA head Scott Pruitt for opposing President Obama’s clean air policies during a House hearing on Pruitt’s extravagant air fare spending — charter planes and first class tickets — at taxpayer expense and renting a D.C. condo from an oil lobbyist for $50 a night.
Barton, who has long history of climate change science denial, claimed Pruitt was a victim:
You’re not the first person to be the victim of — for lack of a better term — Washington politics. You got picked to be the EPA administrator because of the service you provided for the great state of Oklahoma in fighting some of the Obama administration radical clean air policies.
Barton also praised Pruitt for advising President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, a move that has been universally condemned.
Barton then played down Pruitt’s extravagant travel costs by claiming Pruitt had not done anything illegal, even though Pruitt has never been accused of anything illegal.
TIME noted in 2010 how Barton promoted a highly dangerous water pollutant in 2005 that was manufactured in his district:
During the 2005 energy bill negotiations, Barton earned the nickname “Smokey Joe” from environmental groups for championing MtBE, a gas additive made in his district which turned out to be a highly dangerous water pollutant. Barton wanted a liability shield for all MtBE producers — a move that his own fellow Republicans in the Senate rejected two years in a row. Barton finally caved, allowing the energy bill to pass.
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