Sen. Murkowski questions Scott Pruitt during budget hearing for EPA

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The study, conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), reportedly shows that these chemicals are risky to human health at far lower levels than previously known or diclosed by the EPA, and have "contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants, and other sites from NY to MI to West Virginia".

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Wednesday that he didn't recall asking that lights and sirens be used on his motorcade so he could get through Washington traffic faster.

"I'm not entirely sure why there would be criticism around us taking a concerted action to addressing Superfund sites and taking accountability, whoever brings that to our attention", Pruitt added.

Lawmakers at a Senate hearing Wednesday hammered Scott Pruitt with his toughest questioning to date amid federal investigations on his spending, bodyguards and ties with lobbyists, in exchanges that included dramatic production of a newly released internal email that appeared to contradict the embattled Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Pruitt, whose tenure with the agency has been plagued by scandals like rampant spending, dodged questions from senators on topics from unapproved raises for staffers to his unprecedented (and expensive) security detail.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), ranking member on the full Appropriations Committee, said Pruitt has become a "laughingstock" along with his agency. "I want to rectify those going forward".

"Forget about your own ego and your first class travel and your special phone booths and all these things that just make you a laughing stock, and your agency a laughing stock", Leahy said.

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Sen. Udall also asked Pruitt for his thoughts on another investigation: Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into the 2016 election.

"I share your concerns about some of these decisions".

But asked repeatedly by Udall if he apologizes for the tweet, Pruitt declined to do so.

"You were an AG, a law enforcement officer - CFR regulations prohibit directing a subordinate to do personal work for you, and if they volunteer that's a gift", Udall said. The Washington Post first reported last month that Hupp, who now serves as EPA's head of scheduling and advance, contacted a Washington real estate firm and individual homeowners to view properties. "Instead of seeing articles about efforts to return your agency to its core mission", Murkowski said.

The agency is also weighing creating a legal drinking water threshold for PFOA and PFOS, he said.

A top Republican senator worries that the ethical cloud hanging over President Donald Trump's top environmental official is overshadowing the administration's pro-business regulatory moves.

Pruitt was also asked about a report an aide helped Pruitt find a new place to live. He acknowledged that an aide, Millan Hupp, shopped for Washington housing for him, although he said it was on her personal time. While other administrators have used "nonpublic" email accounts like this before, under federal law communications carried out through those email accounts must be retained for the federal record.

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