News Feature | July 6, 2018

Embattled EPA Chief Pruitt Resigns

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Embattled EPA Chief Pruitt Resigns

Scott Pruitt has resigned from his position as administrator of the U.S. EPA.

President Trump announced the development by tweet on Thursday: “I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Trump praised the embattled environmental official for doing “an outstanding job” in the position, adding that Pruitt’s deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will assume the position of acting administrator.

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

The New York Times pointed out ideological consistencies between Pruitt and his acting successor.

Wheeler is a “former coal lobbyist who shares Mr. Pruitt’s zeal to undo environmental regulations,” the report stated.

Wheeler “is likely to continue with the Trump administration's efforts to roll back environmental oversight, but with far fewer scandals than his predecessor,” The Pacific Standard reported.

“Republicans say Wheeler is well-qualified to lead the EPA, having worked at the agency early in his career. He also was a top aide at the Senate Environment Committee before becoming a lobbyist,” the Associated press reported.

“Wheeler previously worked as the co-head of energy practice for the law and lobbying firm Faegre Baker Daniels, and lobbied on behalf of clients like coal-mining giant Murray Energy Corp. He undid his lobbyist registration last year, shortly before Trump nominated him for the job,” The Hill reported.

Pruitt made a major impact on national water policy during his tenure at the EPA. Chief among his policy goals was the dismantling of the Waters of the U.S. (“WOTUS”) regulation, an update to the Clean Water Act that attempted to bring a greater number of water bodies under federal regulation.

“He began the largest regulatory rollback in the agency’s history, undoing, delaying or blocking several Obama-era environmental rules. Among them was a suite of historic regulations aimed at mitigating global warming pollution from the United States’ vehicles and power plants,” The New York Times reported.

However, Pruitt was perhaps best known for his scandals. Those ranged from cozy relationships with lobbyists to the alleged use of taxpayer money to make inappropriate purchases, the report stated.

Image credit: "EPA," © 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: