EPA's new chief is former coal lobbyist, Senate staffer

07 July, 2018, 08:52 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • Scott Pruitt, Embattled Environmental Protection Agency Chief, Resigns

President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. Trump writes on Twitter, "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job". Pruitt's deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will start as acting administrator of the EPA on Monday. Trump tweeted that he has "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!" he tweeted. Mr. Pruitt joins the ranks of former Trump administration officials forced to resign in disgrace, raising questions about why Mr. Trump hired them in the first place. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the panel's former chairman and a political mentor to both Pruitt and Wheeler.

With Pruitt's departure, President Trump lost an administrator many conservatives regarded as one of the more effective members of his Cabinet. I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens", Trump said then, and didn't answer a reporter who asked if Trump was "tired' of Pruitt. "Andrew worked for me for 14 years, has an impeccable reputation and has the experience to be a strong leader at the EPA", he said.

Pruitt was a former Oklahoma attorney general who filed a number of lawsuits against the EPA, according to the agency's website.

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".

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The Environmental Working Group, a public health and environment watchdog, called Pruitt "unquestionably the worst head of the agency in its 48-year history". Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, said in a statement after news of Mr. Pruitt's resignation broke.

Pruitt has been buffeted by numerous revelations about extravagant spending, including $1,560 for a dozen fountain pens, $3,000 on "tactical pants" and "tactical polos", $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office and $120,000 on a trip to Italy. Among the allegations against Pruitt are his use of first-class air travel and enlisting EPA staff for personal matters, including getting his wife a job at Chick-fil-A.

As a lobbyist with the firm Faegre Baker Daniel, one of his major clients has been the nation's largest private coal company, Murray Energy, whose CEO Bob Murray has been a generous Republican donor and Trump supporter.

"It has become increasingly challenging for the EPA to carry out its mission with the administrator under investigation", said Barrasso, who is from Wyoming.

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