Why Is the EPA Building a Soundproof Booth for Scott Pruitt?

When Scott Pruitt was appointed director of the Environmental Protection Agency by Donald Trump, any transparency in the department seemed to vanish almost as quickly as the years of information about climate change on the agency’s website.

Pruitt, as you may know, does not believe in global warming (he successfully convinced Donald Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement) and is a staunch supporter of the oil industry.

Since he took over as EPA director, Pruitt has taken several unprecedented and unsettling security measures. He requested an 18-member security force to protect him 24/7. The doors to his floor are usually kept locked, and EPA employees must be escorted there. Before meetings, aides are required to surrender their cell phones and are often told not to take any notes.

“The imposing limestone government building in central Washington where Scott Pruitt holds sway is increasingly operating away from public view with decisions made behind closed doors, once-public information blacked out, and influential insiders taking charge,” wrote Martha Roberts, senior attorney with the U.S. Climate Legal and Regulatory Program at the Environmental Defense Fund.

The EPA has taken yet another big step in operating away from public view. It has approved the construction – with a price tag of about $25,000 – of a soundproof “communications booth” for Pruitt’s use.

That’s right, Pruitt will be conducting meetings, phone calls and other business inside what’s known as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).

According to the Washington Post, which broke the story about the purchase, these booths are usually used for hearing tests. But the one the EPA ordered for Pruitt this summer is being custom made.

“They had a lot of modifications,” Steve Snider, an acoustic sales consultant with Acoustal Solutions, which is building the booth, told the Washington Post. “Their main goal was they wanted essentially a secure phone booth that couldn’t be breached from a data point of view or from someone standing outside eavesdropping.”

Soundproofing is nothing new in government facilities, but in the past it’s been used to prevent the leakage of classified information at places like the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and the Department of State. There’s already an SCIF on another floor of the EPA headquarters for this purpose.

Pruitt is the only EPA director to get his own private SCIF. Why does he need one?

Unlike previous directors for whom the “Protection” part of EPA had some meaning, Pruitt has spent much of his tenure in meetings with top executives from the companies the EPA regulates, including major coal-burning and coal-mining operations.

He’s also met with officials from the Alliance to Restore Our Waterways — but don’t be fooled by the name. It’s a coalition of chemical industry companies, including Dow and Honeywell, that wants to make changes to the EPA’s Superfund program, which cleans up the country’s most contaminated lands.

Even without any notetaking or a soundproof booth, what’s no secret is that Pruitt clearly wants to dismantle environmental regulations that keep the air clean and Americans healthy.

“There’s a feeling of paranoia in the agency — employees feel like there’s been a hostile takeover and the guy in charge is treating them like enemies,” Christopher Sellers, an expert in environmental history who interviewed 40 EPA employees a few months ago, told the New York Times.

It’s not only the EPA’s employees, but many Americans who feel like there’s been a hostile takeover of the agency. Pruitt’s latest effort to conceal his devious intentions by using a $25,000 soundproof booth at taxpayers’ expense is unacceptable. Please sign and share this petition letting Pruitt know that Americans want a strong EPA.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

37 comments

Chad A
Chad A2 months ago

Huh?

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Joette B
Joette B2 months ago

PROOF THEY ARE HIDING A BIGGIE or JUST AN EXCUSE TO WASTE TAXES AND WEAKEN THIS NATION OR BOTH OR >>> ALL MORONS IF THEY THINK WE WILL ALLOW WILD SPENDING BY OUR EMPLOYEES THAT ASSUME GODHOOD

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Yvonne Williams
Yvonne Williams2 months ago

This guy is a joke! Imagine the head of the EPA voluntarily (actually demanding)being locked behind closed doors in his office. I guess if I was such a putz, I would be little nervous about being caught at it. There goes transparency. Yeesh, and I thought after his appointment nothing would surprise me - but then again...

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Winn A
Winn Adams2 months ago

Petition Signed

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Clare O
Clare O2 months ago

IF nothing wrong is going on why soundproofing

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Clare O
Clare O2 months ago

Th

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Carl R
Carl R2 months ago

Thanks!!!

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Debbi W
Debbi W2 months ago

By now I though most people would understand that trump chose each of his cabinet member because each was opposed to doing what was right for the country. DeVos is promoting 'private' schools; she such a poor representative/example of that idea. Pruitt is in that office to shut it down so their billionaire buds can make even more money by poisoning the air, ground and water. They don't give a damn about our health, or, apparently theirs, either.

If you want to change this, make sure you __Do NOT__ vote for any republicans in the next few elections.

trump, pence and the cabinet need to be sent back to their swam and out of D.C. and our lives.

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Debbie F
Debbie F2 months ago

Highly suspicious! Who is he working for? It is not the American people. It is Koch brothers and their big industry friends.

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