EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned on July 5 after a growing chorus called for his resignation amidst allegations that tainted his tenure. The allegations included having a top aide help with personal matters, including apartment hunting, family vacation planning, and finding him a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel. Pruitt is the first EPA administrator to spend $3 million on security.
President Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation on Twitter in a series of tweets. He also announced in tweets that the Senate confirmed EPA Deputy Andrew Wheeler as the acting administrator.
Environmental groups are understandably glad that Pruitt is out. “We’re happy that Pruitt can no longer deceive Americans or destroy our environment. This victory belongs to the hundreds of thousands of activists who fought to protect the Environmental Protection Agency from a corrupt crony set on destroying it from the inside,” said Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth.
“Scott Pruitt’s disastrous run as head of the EPA is ‘blessedly’ coming to a close, but not before he attempted to enact some of the most regressive and dangerous policies ever seen from this once vital government agency,” said Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.
“It’s about time,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune:
“Scott Pruitt was the worst EPA Administrator in history, and any President that cared about protecting taxpayers, respecting science, tackling the climate crisis, or protecting the environment would have fired him months ago.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had the shortest response to Pruitt’s resignation. The group released a statement with one word: “Good.”
Who is Andrew Wheeler?
Wheeler is a former energy lobbyist whose clients include coal companies such as Murray Energy Corporation. Wheeler serves as the vice president of the Washington Coal Club, which the National Resources Defense Council describes as a “little-known federation of more than 300 coal producers, lawmakers, business leaders, and policy experts who have dedicated themselves to preserving the uncertain future of our dirtiest fossil fuel.”
Wheeler worked as a legislative aide to Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK). This is the same senator who wrote a book disparaging climate change science as “the greatest hoax.” Inhofe once told a radio interview that educating children on climate change basics amounted to brainwashing.
Some environmental groups issued statements that seemed to indicate they think the EPA will be better without Wheeler. The NRDC makes it clear that the EPA under Wheeler will be more of the same:
“The line on Wheeler from people in the know is that he’s essentially Scott Pruitt’s ideological twin—but that his many years as a Washington insider have endowed him with a political savvy that Pruitt sorely lacks,” the NRDC cautioned.
Wheeler is “equally unqualified to serve as the nation’s chief environmental steward,” the NRDC’s managing director for government affairs, Ana Unruh Cohen said in a statement. “Like Pruitt, this veteran coal lobbyist has shown only disdain for the EPA’s vital mission to protect Americans’ health and our environment. Make no mistake: we’ll fight Wheeler’s pollution agenda with the same vigor as we did Pruitt’s.”
Replacing Pruitt with Wheeler “only reaffirms the Trump administration’s fossil fuel allegiance,” said May Boeve, 350.org Executive Director.
Indeed it does. And in the words of FOE’s Pica, “Our focus now shifts to acting administrator and coal industry crony Andrew Wheeler.”
Image credits: Mike Licht, courtesy Flicker; Wikipedia