Worry and relief at EPA after scandal-plagued chief's exit

08 July, 2018, 01:23 | Author: Jacqueline Daniels
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks at a news conference with Pasquale

Two Democratic lawmakers asked the EPA's inspector general on Thursday to investigate new allegations that Administrator Scott Pruitt falsified his official schedule to hide or remove records of meetings or discussions with industry representatives. The EPA also confirmed that Pruitt's security detail joined him on first-class flights, contributing to the high costs of his travel. Reports also show Pruitt rented a condo linked to energy lobbyists for just $50 a day and enlisted aides to do special favors, such as contacting the CEO of Chick-fil-A to help Pruitt's wife open a franchise of the restaurant.

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley released a statement Thursday afternoon regarding Pruitt's resignation. But Pruitt had also been dogged for months by scandals that spawned more than a dozen federal and congressional investigations.

In only 1.5 years at the agency, Pruitt has rolled back numerous Obama-era policies.

In a letter sent to EPA employees obtained by BuzzFeed News, Wheeler said he looks forward to working toward the "collective goal of protecting public health and the environment on behalf of the American people".

"We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment", she says to him in the video.

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As the former Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt worked hard to burnish his anti-gay creds, opposing marriage equality and the rights of transgender students.

Republicans and some energy industry lobbyists say Inhofe's alumni network brings deep policy knowledge to EPA and is well-positioned to bring calm to an agency that has been mired in controversies under Pruitt.

Pruitt, who has been widely praised by conservatives for his deregulatory agenda, attributed his departure to "unrelenting attacks" against him and his family.

Along the way, Pruitt led the charge to rip the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement, a favorite campaign trail applause line of Trump's, ruining America's credibility on the global stage and turning the country's back on a climate change mitigation agreement signed by every other nation on earth.

During his tenure Pruitt oversaw the largest regulatory rollback in EPA history. The president cheered his EPA chief's moves to boost fossil fuel production and roll back regulations opposed by corporate interests.

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Note: This post is adapted from an earlier version that appeared April 6, 2018, when Andrew Wheeler was nominated to be deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who rejects mainstream climate science. "As for Mr. Andrew Wheeler, I have not had any contact with Mr. Wheeler since he became Deputy Administrator of the U.S. EPA and, as such, we are unable to provide any further comment". The vote was narrowly passed in the Senate, and officials were highly divided along party lines - with every Republican voting in favor and all but three Democrats voting against Wheeler.Wheeler is now first in charge, and for many Democrats, environmental activists, and others who were relieved to see Pruitt step down, the news comes as a disappointment.

Brandon Hurlbut, former chief of staff at the Department of Energy, said the ethics complaints are one thing that is likely to change with Wheeler.

While Wheeler did not lobby the EPA while he was under consideration for a job at the agency, his lobbying firm's colleagues did.

Some of the ethics accusations against Pruitt involved jobs for his wife.

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