E.P.A. Chief Pruitt Postpones Trip to Israel Amid Scrutiny of High-Priced Travel

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, in Washington last month. He has postponed a trip to Israel twice.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency who has come under scrutiny for first-class air travel, has postponed a plan to visit Israel this week, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

The trip, which was to focus on water issues and included a stop at a water recycling plant, had already been rescheduled once before. Originally scheduled for January, it was put off until February for logistical reasons, administration officials said at the time.

Liz Bowman, a spokeswoman for the E.P.A., declined to give a reason for the decision toagain put off the trip. “We decided to postpone. The administrator looks forward to going in the future,” she said.

Mr. Pruitt has faced criticism from Democrats and a handful of Republicans for his travel patterns. Documents released in recent weeks under the Freedom of Information Act to the watchdog group Environmental Integrity Project detail more than $107,000 spent on first-class air travel and charter flights both domestically and internationally during the first six months of Mr. Pruitt’s tenure.

The trips include $14,434 to for a chartered flight with E.P.A. staff in July within Mr. Pruitt’s home state of Oklahoma. And the administrator in December flew to Morocco to promote natural gas exports. That trip also drew attention because the agency does not oversee natural gas exports.

The E.P.A. inspector general has opened an investigation into “the frequency, cost and extent of the administrator’s travel,” including his Oklahoma and Morocco trips. Mr. Pruitt’s staff has defended the first-class flights, saying they are necessary because the administrator faces security threats.

In rescheduling his January plans to visit Israel, Mr. Pruitt’s staff chose a notable week. Feb. 18-22 — the dates he had hoped to visit — is the week that the leaders of 52 major Jewish organizations had set for their annual gathering in Israel.

The E.P.A. did not respond to a question about whether the travel was planned to coincide with the Jewish leaders’ trip. Officials with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations said Mr. Pruitt had not made arrangements to speak with their group.

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