EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns

Climate change denier Scott Pruitt, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, submitted his resignation on Thursday, to take effect July 6. On Monday, EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler becomes the acting administrator.
July 6, 2018, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The resignation appeared to happen quickly," report Coral Davenport, Lisa Friedman and Maggie Haberman for The New York Times on July 5.

An individual close to Mr. Pruitt said the president acted after he found one particular story in recent days embarrassing: a report that Mr. Pruitt had asked Mr. Trump to fire Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, so that Mr. Pruitt could run the Justice Department.

Fresh allegations that Mr. Pruitt had retroactively altered his public schedule, potentially committing a federal crime, had also escalated concerns about him at the White House, according to a White House aide.

 On Thursday afternoon, around 1:30, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, reached out to Mr. Pruitt to tell him the time had come.

Pruitt, who was nominated by Trump on Dec. 7, 2016, is facing 13 federal investigations into his spending and management practices as EPA administrator, submitted a letter of resignation effective July 6.

On Monday, EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist who was confirmed on a 53-45 vote by Senate on April 12, becomes the acting administrator "until President Trump nominates a new agency chief, who must then be confirmed by the Senate," reports Coral Davenport in a separate article. "That process could take months and potentially stretch past the November midterm elections."

While many, particularly in the environmental community, may celebrate Pruitt's departure due greatly to his role in implementing the Trump administration policy of regulatory rollbacks, they may have more to fear from his immediate successor, adds Davenport.

Mr. Wheeler is viewed as a consummate Washington insider who avoids the limelight and has spent years effectively navigating the rules. For that reason, Mr. Wheeler’s friends and critics alike say, he could ultimately prove to be more adept than his controversial former boss in the job.

“Many worry Wheeler will be more effective at implementing Trump’s anti-environmental agenda than Pruitt was,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former Clinton White House climate adviser, in the wake of the departure.

Davenport goes on to describes Wheeler's background and reputation. What was interesting to read was the important role played by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a well-known climate change skeptic, in the appointments of both Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general and Wheeler, who served as Inhofe's former chief of staff.

Like both his former bosses, Wheeler appears to be a climate skeptic, based on his questioning the findings of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading scientific authority on global warming.

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Published on Thursday, July 5, 2018 in The New York Times
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