Added by Erik West on July 5, 2018
The head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, resigned on Thursday after facing months where allegations of legal and ethical violations were leveled against him.
US President Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation in a tweet where Trump thanked Pruitt for an “outstanding job” and added that he’d always be thankful to Pruitt for this. In the tweet, Trump outlined that Andrew Wheeler, the agency’s deputy, would take over on Monday.
The “outstanding job” Trump referred to in his tweet likely covered a number of key regulatory rollbacks, the largest in the EPA’s history, where many Obama-era environmental rules were undone, delayed, or blocked altogether. Pruitt also played a key role in the withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Under the agreement, just about every country that signed the agreement committed to reducing emissions of fossil fuel emissions which are thought to contribute to global warming. The president’s other senior advisors said the move to withdraw from the agreement could damage US credibility yet Pruitt persisted and urged Trump to follow through his campaign promise.
President Trump as repeatedly said that Pruitt had done what he wanted in terms of cutting regulations so Trump had been reluctant to let him go. However, the tipping point was a cascade if accusations of impropriety, ethical missteps, and negative headlines. “It’s one thing after another with this guy,” said a person close to President Trump, quoting the president.
Pruitt’s successor, Andrew Wheeler, is expected to fare better because he’s considered to be a Washington insider that lives by the rules while still having the zeal to undo environmental regulations. Wheeler is said to avoid the spotlight and effectively navigates the rules.
Wheeler is expected to serve for at least several months until President Trump nominates a new EPA chief, who must then be confirmed by the Senate. It is thought the process could stretch past the November midterm elections.
Pruitt may have a flawed legacy. In his haste to cut regulations and publicize his success, Pruitt and his staff failed to follow important procedures. The courts have already struc down six of Pruitt’s rollbacks.
Pruitt’s resignation are likely to negatively affect his political aspirations. Insiders say he had been preparing for a run for the state office in the state of Oklahoma and had sights set on a possible presidential run in 2024.