With Pruitt Out, Who Will Lead the EPA?

After less than 18 scandal-filled months in office, Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned Thursday. President Trump tweeted the announcement, saying the agency's deputy administrator will assume the position until the President nominates a new Secretary. Pruitt's unprecedented pattern of constant scandals provided an eerie parallel to the president's more profane or mendacious tweets: any one or two would have been un-survivable in past administrations, but had become just part of the unusual landscape of Washington under Trump.

"Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this", Trump wrote.

Trump on Thursday said he has confidence that Wheeler "will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda". The Washington Post reports top Pruitt aides have detailed further questionable spending and management decisions to congressional investigators.

That earlier tweet came in response to another Washington Post report that detailed Pruitt's attempt to find a job for his wife through donors. He also had a $43,000 phone booth installed in his office.

With Pruitt's departure, President Donald Trump loses an administrator many conservatives regarded as one of the more effective members of his Cabinet.

Wheeler was registered to lobby for Murray Energy. the nation's biggest coal mining company until August 2017, Senate records show.

On Tuesday, The Atlantic reported the EPA chief bypassed the White House to give large raises to favored aides who had come with him from Oklahoma, where he was attorney general. Trump has praised Pruitt for slashing regulations on the energy and manufacturing industries, including his move to repeal Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature program to cut carbon emissions from power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan.

The departure follows years worth of constant scandal and public outrage for Pruitt's constant profligate spending and insider dealing.

Judith Enck, an Obama-era former EPA regional administrator, told Mother Jones in an interview ahead of Wheeler's confirmation as deputy EPA administrator in April that Wheeler serving as EPA chief would be comparable to "having a tobacco lobbyist heading up the American Lung Association".

Kieran Suckling, from America's Centre for Biological Diversity, said: "Despite his brief tenure, Pruitt was the worst EPA chief in history". He rented an apartment linked to oil industry lobbyists in a pricey neighborhood of the capital for a mere US$50 a night, a sum he only paid for on nights he actually slept there.

Yet as the administration ran through a litany of dismissals and resignations - including Tom Bossert, David Shulkin, H R McMaster, Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, Hope Hicks, Rob Porter, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Dina Powell, Tom Price, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, James Comey and Michael Flynn - Pruitt appeared to be bulletproof.

Wheeler's resume reads like an environmental advocate's nightmare for green groups that push for stronger environmental protection.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)

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