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White House reportedly reviewing Scott Pruitt's condo rental tied to energy lobbyist

EPA to roll back Obama-era rules
EPA to roll back Obama-era emissions, fuel economy standards 02:43

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, is expected to announce Tuesday a reversal of tougher Obama-era standards for greenhouse gas emissions and auto fuel economy.  As The Wall Street Journal reports, the White House is reviewing reports that Pruitt paid a below-market rate to live in a Washington condo tied to an energy industry lobbyist.

Pruitt is pitching the rollback of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards as something that will benefit consumers and the car industry, but it's expected to ignite a firestorm of criticism in Washington. Pruitt has previously questioned the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on the environment -- something President Trump also doubted on the campaign trail, reports CBS News' Chip Reid.  

"I think that measuring with precision, human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do," Pruitt said on CNBC last March.

In a press release, the EPA announced the current carbon dioxide emission and fuel economy standards "are not appropriate and should be revised" but did not say what those revisions would be. The move could set up a legal fight between the Trump administration and California, which has vowed to stick with the current regulations and has a waiver through the Clean Air Act to set its own emissions standards.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says "change is coming" on his travel 01:19

The announcement comes as Pruitt is facing new ethics questions regarding a condo he rented from the wife of a top energy lobbyist. Until last July, Pruitt was renting a condo for $50 per night from the wife of Steven Hart, chairman of a top Washington lobbying firm. Hart's firm reportedly lobbied "to scale back Barack Obama-era EPA rules limiting greenhouse-gas emissions from existing power plants." The EPA also reportedly signed off on a pipeline plan for another company linked to the firm at the same time Pruitt was renting the condo.

In addition, Pruitt is facing questions about his first class plane travel, which cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Pruitt said it was necessary because of threats he received.

"The security detail that I had, they wanted me in a position on the plane to exit expeditiously if an incident arose," he told CBS News earlier this year.  

In a statement to CBS News an EPA spokesperson said, "administrator Pruitt is focused on advancing President Trump's agenda of regulatory certainty and environmental stewardship." 

There are reports that Pruitt's time at the EPA is coming to an end but last week, President Trump called Pruitt to say he was doing a good job.

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