President Trump announced on Twitter today that Scott Pruitt has resigned from his post as the chief administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Pruitt advocated for dismantling many of the Obama-era environmental rules during his short tenure, including managing the exit from the Paris climate accord and proposing solutions to the Flint water crisis. He also recommended higher standards of scientific research for the agency.
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. Information requests to the agency spiked to as many as 60 a day last year, “many so broadly worded that it will take years to answer,” reported the Washington Examiner. Many on the Right noted that Pruitt’s behavior was either similar or better than that of previous EPA administrators.
Pruitt also worked to cut the agency’s budget and bought out hundreds of staff. According to CNN, the president spoke highly of Pruitt just a month ago, telling reporters that he was “doing a great job within the walls of the EPA,” and that “we’re setting records.” Trump noted that Pruitt was under attack from the media but just said “We’ll see what happens.”
Pruitt’s replacement will be his deputy, Andrew Wheeler. The Senate confirmed Wheeler as deputy in April in a 53-45 vote, with the support of three Democratic senators.
Wheeler previously worked for the EPA from 1991 to 1995 before moving to serve on the Senate Committee for Environment and Public Works. Since then, he has lobbied for various energy industries, including the coal industries. Like Pruitt, Wheeler thinks the current evidence on climate change is inconclusive and has lobbied against regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.