Disgraced Scott Pruitt resigns from EPA, but his replacement could be just as bad for the environment
On Thursday, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt resigned from his position. Pruitt has faced multiple ethics scandals and sparked public outcries for his decisions to roll back protections.
Pruitt is the latest member of Trump’s Cabinet to leave. Other Trump Cabinet members who departed are Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
On Pruitt’s resignation, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders told CNN, “Pruitt has been nothing more than an agent for the fossil fuel industry, much more concerned about profits than the need of the American people.”
Kevin Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, agreed in a statement: “He will forever be associated with extraordinary ethical corruption and the abuse of power for petty personal enrichments… Sadly, the ideological fervor with which Pruitt pursued the destruction of environmental regulations and the agency itself live on in the Trump administration.”
Within a year of working for the Trump administration, Pruitt notoriously squashed environmental regulations that have been opposed by multiple industry lobbyists. Examples include removing a regulation which required fossil-fuel producers to monitor methane emissions and delaying the Clean Power Plan.
Andrew Wheeler will resume the administrator position. However, many have qualms about Wheeler’s priorities as well.
Bernie Sanders told CNN, “We need an EPA administrator — and I know this is a radical idea — that actually believes in environmental protection, rather than just the profits of the oil, gas or coal industry.
Andrew Wheeler worked as an industry lobbyist for Murray Energy, the “largest coal mining company in America.” Natural Resources Defense Council stated that Robert E. Murray “vigorously fought the Obama administration’s attempts to reduce carbon emissions and strengthen environmental and public health laws.”
Wheeler has also worked as an assistant to Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, who accused the EPA of “brainwashing” children in a CNN interview. In addition, Wheeler served as the vice president of the Washington Coal Club, a federation of coal interests and lobbying groups.
The Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement that they would fight Wheeler’s “pollution agenda with the same vigor as we did Pruitt’s.”