Scott Pruitt Is Out At The EPA, But His Policy Legacy Remains

Brendan Smialowski  AFP  Getty Images

Brendan Smialowski AFP Getty Images

In this photo taken on June 1, 2017, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt, speaks after US President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Accords in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC.

A former coal lobbyist is set to take over the helm at the Environmental Protection Agency after EPA administrator Scott Pruitt resigned Thursday amid questions of unethical behavior.

Although Pruitt was spotted at the White House's Fourth of July festivities, Trump tweeted that he had "accepted" Pruitt's resignation and was installing former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the agency. The EPA also confirmed that Pruitt's security detail joined him on first-class flights, contributing to the high costs of his travel. Speaking to later to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said Pruitt was a "terrific guy".

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who chairs the Senate environment panel, said that during Pruitt's tenure, the EPA "has rolled back punishing regulations that were hurting American workers and stifling our economy". Chmielewski also leveled new claims against the administrator, including "improper retaliation against EPA staff".

Many of those scandals led to investigations.

According to The Washington Post, Pruitt pushed to find his wife a well-paying job with a politically connected group.

As Pruitt considered opening the loophole for glider truck manufacturers earlier this year, national health groups including the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of American and the American Lung Association signed a letter imploring the EPA chief to protect the public from the pollution-causing vehicles. Prior to that, he had served as Oklahoma attorney general in 2010.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, the former head of the Environmental Justice program at the EPA, said those policy changes were so unsafe that he chose to quit after working at the agency for 24 years. The EPA administrator's resignation comes days after a teacher confronted him at a Washington D.C. restaurant to express her disapproval of his policies and urged him to resign. His main client was the largest coal producer in the US.

Pruitt's EPA has also put restrictions on environmental science and is in the process of weakening federal fuel economy standards.

"The electorate in Oklahoma has changed a lot lately", said Bennett.

After leaving Congress, worked for years as a lobbyist for some of the largest coal, chemical and uranium companies in the US - including the uranium mining firm that pushed for the reduction of Bears Ears National Monument, which is near one of its processing facilities.

EPA deputy Andrew Wheeler would "assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA". The administration knew that more damaging reports would emerge soon, one of the people said.

Hurlbut, who has first-hand knowledge of Wheeler's work, said he disagrees with the acting EPA chair on policy matters, but acknowledged that Wheeler is generally well respected.

As an evangelical Christian, Pruitt approached his job from a biblical worldview. Wheeler lobbied for coal giant Murray Energy, serving as a captain in that company's bitter war against President Obama's efforts to cut global warming emissions and enact more stringent clean air and clean water rules.

Last month, while praising Pruitt's "fantastic job" at the EPA, the president admitted, "I'm not happy about certain things, I'll be honest".

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