Friday, 21 September, 2018

Woman Who Asked Pruitt to Resign Hopes Confrontation 'Empowers' All

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt attends a 2018 Hurricane Briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency  headquarters in Washington DC Scott Pruitt resigns from EPA
Andrew Wong | 09 July, 2018, 09:02

Scott Pruitt resigned as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Thursday after White House Chief of Staff John Kelly delivered a message from the president that it was time for the scandal-plagued administrator to leave, according to two people familiar with the situation.

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. Andrew Wheeler, Pruitt's former deputy administrator, an erstwhile Senate aide, and a former coal industry lobbyist, will act as the agency's interim director, President Trump revealed via Twitter. "But you're not going to see the EPA, at least under my direction, make up a lot as we go along". While Pruitt was sidetracked by scandal - such as claims of fiscal mismanagement - Wheeler is a nose-to-the-grindstone workaholic and will be able to achieve the agency's updated mission with little fanfare. "The same energy and passion that helped boot Scott Pruitt will be focused on ensuring the next EPA administrator works for the public, not corporate polluters".

Asked about the matter at his Senate committee hearing previous year, Wheeler promised he "would certainly listen to the career scientists at the agency and the outside science advisory boards to the agency on what is the best available science at the time for any regulatory decisions". James Inhofe, R-Okla., "one of Washington's most prominent climate change denialists".

Some scientists and other career staffers, who learned of Pruitt's departure through news and social media on Thursday, quietly expressed relief, Elizabeth Southerland, who quit a year ago as the science director at the agency's Office of Water, said after hearing Thursday and Friday from many still at the agency.

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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"I could have put my hat in the ring for the administrator". Before Trump nominated him to become deputy EPA administrator last fall, Wheeler was a lobbyist at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, where his best-paying client was the coal mining company Murray Energy.

Trump announced Pruitt's resignation Thursday in a series of tweets. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote in a letter to Wheeler on Friday. Edward Markey, D-Mass. By elevating Wheeler to replace Pruitt, he said, "the EPA is only trading one fossil fuel friend for another".

That contrasts with how many people viewed Pruitt, who was widely thought to be trying to use EPA as a stepping stool to reach higher political office.

"The environment doesn't need deregulation, we need more regulations to protect the environment. this should not be a partisan issue", she said.

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