Pruitt resigns as EPA Administrator

Carlton Robbins
July 9, 2018

"It is extremely hard for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity", Pruitt wrote in his resignation letter to President Trump, "but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring".

Pruitt's deputy at the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, will take over as the acting administrator of the agency from Monday.

"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda", tweeted the President. "We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!"

The former administrator was plagued by scandals and faced at least 13 federal investigations related to his behavior on the job and his handling of taxpayer money - including allegations that he asked a government aide to seek a "business opportunity" for his wife with the fast-food restaurant Chick-fil-A. He is accused of using public funds for personal travel or office improvements, bypassing the White House to secure huge salary rises for some of his staff members, renting an apartment with ties to a lobbyist from the energy industry and several other improprieties at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental groups, such as Clean Power Lake County, have seen Pruitt as the man who has systematically destabilized the very organization he was chosen to lead in order to carry out President Donald Trump's agenda to roll back environmental regulations imposed under former President Barack Obama. Trump needs to nominate a new agency chief, and his choice would then have to be confirmed by the Senate, which may not happen by mid-term elections in November.

Wadsworth GOP Rep. Jim Renacci, who is a Republican candidate for Senate against Brown, posted a statement on Twitter congratulating Wheeler.

Warren also slammed Andrew Wheeler, Pruitt's deputy who will now serve as acting administrator, saying he is "a longtime Washington insider and corporate lawyer who's done the bidding of fossil fuel companies for decades".

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It's possible that Trump will decide to keep Wheeler on as EPA head, but his prospects might be hampered by anti-Trump social media posts that Wheeler made before the 2016 election. "I am still not interested in that". According to the New York Times, one group of former Inhofe aides who now work in energy and environment policy positions across the Trump administration and in top DC lobbying firms are loosely referred to as the "Inhofe mafia".

Wheeler, a veteran coal industry lobbyist, told Politico that he recanted after he heard Trump speak on energy issues that June.

"Scott Pruitt has failed in the EPA mission to protect human health and the environment, and Americans are less safe today than they should be, due to his poor decisions and leadership", Cook-Schultz said.

After finally getting Pruitt's political scalp, the opposition party demanded more - ironically adopting Trump's own campaign rhetoric about the Washington establishment.

The administration knew that more damaging reports would emerge soon, one of the people said.

While Pruitt arrived in Washington as part of President Trump's promised wave of outsiders hoping to shake up the Capital, Wheeler has spent years navigating the intricacies of environmental policy.

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