EPA’s inspector general said Wednesday it will investigate Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent trip to Morocco to promote natural gas.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who requested the probe, says Pruitt’s four-day trip to Morocco last month was inappropriate because the EPA plays no formal role in overseeing natural gas exports, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Energy Department or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The EPA inspector general already is investigating Pruitt for his use of private and military flights and his frequent travel as administrator to his home state of Oklahoma, where he served as attorney general. The inspector general’s office expanded the probe to include Pruitt's travels through the end of the year, including the Morocco trip, which cost $40,000.
Investigators plan to examine “the frequency, cost and extent of the administrator’s travel” and “whether applicable EPA travel policies and procedures were followed for Pruitt’s travel.”
The inspector general’s probe also covers “whether EPA policies and procedures are sufficiently designed to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse regarding the administrator’s travel.”
The EPA says Pruitt traveled to Morocco to "update" environmental cooperation under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement to include an option to import more natural gas from the U.S.
After talking about LNG, Pruitt toured the IRESEN Green Energy Park, "where he saw firsthand the work being done to promote environmental innovation including solar energy across Morocco," the EPA said.
Morocco is a signatory to the 2015 Paris climate change accord.
Despite its solar push, the country is making investments to begin importing LNG and start building natural gas-fired power plants. It still uses a lot of coal even as it transitions to more solar and is looking to diversify its fuel mix.