Pete Buttigieg Spent Thousands On Flights While His Agency Pushed Emissions Rules

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Nick Pope Contributor
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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on flights in government jets while his agency has promulgated climate regulations, according to a new report by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Inspector General.

Buttigieg has spent more than $58,000 to fly in government jets since taking over as transportation secretary in 2021, according to the inspector general’s report. In that same time period, his agency has pushed climate policies designed to reduce emissions caused by the American transportation sector, including regulations that would limit consumer choice if finalized.

The figures cited in the report do not include other expenses associated with Buttigieg’s travel, such as food and lodging costs, according to the report’s text. Climate activists and environmentalists often malign jet travel because they perceive the carbon dioxide emissions generated by air travel to be detrimental to the environment. (RELATED: Biden FAA Pushing Diversity Hiring As Air Traffic Control System Falls Into Total Disarray)

The agency uses Cessna model aircraft for its flights, according to the report. Currently, the agency uses the Cessna Citation Sovereign 680, which it put into service in January 2022 after retiring Cessna Citation 560 XL jets in 2022.

While not a precise figure for how much carbon dioxide Buttigieg’s travels generated, a low-end estimate would suggest that his official travels on DOT aircraft have emitted approximately 145,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, assuming the light jet departed from and returned to Washington D.C., according to calculations made using Paramount Business Jets’ private jet carbon offset calculator. The average American’s annual carbon footprint is about 32,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.

“As the report confirms, the Secretary travels by commercial airline the vast majority of the time and has directed that travel and logistical decisions be grounded in efficient and responsible use of taxpayer dollars,” a spokesperson for the DOT told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “The exceptions have been when the Department’s career ethics officials, who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, determined that the use of a 9-seat FAA aircraft would be either more cost effective or should be approved for exceptional scheduling or security reasons. The majority of times the FAA aircraft was used actually saved taxpayers money, including in instances that were required for exceptional scheduling needs.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a DOT sub-agency, proposed an ambitious update to fuel economy standards for cars and light-duty trucks in July that Dan Kish, a senior research fellow for the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF amounts to an “[electric vehicle] mandate.” On the day before Thanksgiving, the DOT finalized a regulation that effectively requires state and local transportation agencies to establish greenhouse gas reduction targets for federally-funded roadway projects.

Notably, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who served during the Trump administration, also availed herself of the agency’s private planes to travel for official business, according to the report.

“The climate crisis is here today, threatening Americans’ lives and livelihoods, our homes and businesses, and even the way we travel and operate our federal agencies,” Buttigieg said in October 2021.

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