A top official in the Biden administration is being criticized for taking multiple taxpayer-funded trips on private government jets.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was found to have taken at least 18 flights using taxpayer-funded private jets since taking office, according to a Fox News Digital exclusive.

Buttigieg has been an advocate of increased government intervention to curb carbon emissions while in charge of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

He has been well known for promoting action on climate change and has repeatedly warned of the dangers posed by man-made global warming.

Flying Taxpayer-Friendly Skies

The Biden official has been traveling across the country and internationally, using the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) private jet fleet, according to flight tracking data reviewed by Fox News Digital.

Buttigieg is being accused of hypocritically using the same aircraft that his predecessor, Elaine Chao, was criticized for flying under the Trump administration.

Chao used the FAA jet fleet at least seven times in 2017, which cost taxpayers nearly $94,000, according to Politico at the time.

President Donald Trump’s first Health and Human Services Secretary, Tom Price, was forced to resign after he was found to have taken 26 private jet flights that same year, which cost taxpayers about $1.2 million.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee led an investigation into the use of government and private aircraft by several Trump administration officials, which later led to Price resigning from his post.

Fox News noted that the flight records obtained by government watchdog group Americans for Public Trust (APT) allegedly coincided with Buttigieg’s scheduled meetings with “dark money” green energy organizations.

“Everyday Americans face flight [cancellations] and long wait times because Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has completely mismanaged air travel,” APT executive director Caitlin Sutherland told Fox News Digital.

“Yet, he gets to avoid all that by taking taxpayer-funded private jets to destinations with readily available commercial airline options,” Sutherland said.

“And for someone so holier-than-thou on reducing emissions, Buttigieg sure doesn’t seem to mind the pollution caused by his literal jet-setting,” she continued.

“This is hypocrisy at its finest, and these troubling expenses to taxpayers must come under immediate scrutiny.”

Department Of Transportation Faces Criticism

The DOT, under Buttigieg, has been attacked by fellow progressive lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) this year for being slow to alleviate the massive surge in commercial flight delays during the summer.

As COVID-related travel lockdowns were lifted, the airline industry has reported an increase in delays since the end of last year, as flight numbers rose back to pre-pandemic levels.

The FAA, which is under the DOT, has been suffering from staffing shortages.

Cost Of Government-Sponsored Travel

The total cost of the Transportation Secretary’s flights is not known, but according to The Washington Post, the FAA charged federal agencies $5,000 per hour to use its aircraft.

Fox News said that was using two government Cessna 560XL private jets since he was confirmed by Congress 22 months ago to lead the DOT.

The FAA also maintains and operates a Gulfstream IV jet.

According to Federal regulations, official travel should be conducted via the most efficient means of transportation available and “commensurate with the nature and purpose” of the visit.

“Secretary Buttigieg mostly travels by commercial airline and has directed that travel and logistical decisions be grounded in efficient and responsible use of taxpayer dollars,” a DOT spokesperson told Fox News.

“Given that commercial air travel is usually the cheapest way for the Secretary and his staff to travel, 108 of the 126 flights for DOT trips he has taken have been on commercial airlines.

“However, there are some cases where it is more efficient and/or less expensive for the Secretary and accompanying personnel to fly on a 9-seater FAA plane rather than commercial flights,” the spokesperson explained.

“Use of the FAA plane in limited, specific cases has helped to maximize efficiency and save thousands of taxpayer dollars.”

During a taxpayer-paid flight to Montreal to attend an aviation conference for official DOT business, Buttigieg attended a ceremony hosted by a large Canadian gay rights organization to receive a prestigious award for his “contributions to the advancement of LGBTQ rights.”

Buttigieg told Condé Nast Traveler in November that he likes to arrive at airports an hour early to get “the pre-check and clear stuff all down” to avoid delays, but he did not mention the use of government jets while saying that his official trips were a “bit more complicated with the security arrangements.”

Calls For Restricting Fossil Fuel-Powered Flight

Meanwhile, the secretary has pushed for policies that would transition the economy to end the use of the same fossil fuels used to power government jets towards green energy alternatives.

The private jets used by Buttigieg, are ten times more carbon intensive than the commercial jetliners used by the public and are 50 times more carbon intensive than trains, according to a 2021 report from the group Transport & Environment, reported Fox News.

“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 declared in 2021 in the wake of a DOT climate change report.

“The good news is that we know what to do about it, and America is fully capable of rising to the occasion,” he said.

“While we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prevent the worst outcomes of climate change, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s plan will help ensure that our transportation infrastructure, policies and programs will be more resilient to the climate impacts already facing our country,” Buttigeig added.

Buttigieg once flew to attend a 2021 United Nations climate summit in the U.K. to participate in climate negotiations with other country’s ministers to push for the decarbonization of the global economy, reported Fox News.

Fox News recorded him calling aviation a “significant contributor to climate change” while at the summit.

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