Andrew Wheeler Replaces Pruitt, Media Attacks: Coal Lobbyist, ‘Scorched Earth Agenda’

Cesar Mills
July 6, 2018

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who pleased President Donald Trump with his aggressive efforts to roll back environmental regulations, resigned on Thursday under heavy fire for a series of ethics controversies.

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, said Mr. Pruitt "will go down in history as a disgrace to the office of EPA administrator".

Trump also announced that Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler would take the agency's helm as acting administrator starting Monday.

"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda", Trump wrote.

The EPA under Pruitt has come under intense media scrutiny for accusations of ethics violations, including private jet travel, contacts with energy executives, and trying to find his wife a job.

But at the same time, Pruitt was one of the most effective implementers of the President's agenda.

As the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt worked hard to burnish his anti-gay creds, opposing marriage equality and the rights of transgender students.

He also ordered the installation of a secure telephone cabin in his Washington office at the cost of US$43,000, which critics found excessive. Pruitt defended himself against numerous allegations, saying that people are creating controversy because they are against his and the administration's agenda at EPA.

On Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president and White House were looking into "troublesome" reports about Pruitt.

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Pruitt's notoriety, which was bolstered by his penchant for high-profile events in addition to his constant stream of eyebrow-raising scandals, gave a profile that far exceeded that of a typical EPA chief.

"He'll just be quietly working to implement the regulatory reforms that Pruitt started", said Holmstead.

"Administrator Pruitt always welcomes input from Americans, whether they agree or disagree with the decisions being made at EPA", Ferguson said in a statement to USA Today.

It was also weird given that the first week of Pruitt's planned trip would have been impacted by the shutdown.

Democrats and environmental advocacy groups cheered the departure of Pruitt, a close ally of the fossil fuel industry.

"We have no illusion both about how far Scott Pruitt is from the kind of administrator that we need and also how unsafe Andrew Wheeler would be", Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told TIME before Pruitt's resignation.

The official, describing Team Trump's feeling about Pruitt, wondered whether he would still hold his job as he could crop up in Democratic candidates' ads hitting the president's "swamp", CNN reported Wednesday.

Pruitt's departure follows those of former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The Times described Wheeler as "a former coal lobbyist who shares Mr. Pruitt's zeal to undo environmental regulations".

Other reports by GizPress

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