Scott Pruitt resigns at EPA; Andrew Wheeler to take over

Kristoffer Tripplaar  Sipa via AP

Few members of Congress have been as outspoken against Scott Pruitt and his scandal-plagued tenure as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as has local Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Pruitt had become a constant source of embarrassment to a president who had entered Washington promising to "Drain the Swamp".

Scott Pruitt, the embattled chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned Thursday afternoon, following months of scandals about his spending practices and a trail of questions about possible ethical violations. "I think that I was one little tiny piece of so many people working to get Scott Pruitt out of office".

"Elevating former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to head the EPA is only trading one fossil fuel friend for another", he said. "He felt that he did not want to be a distraction for an administration that he has a lot of faith in", Trump said.

Last month, while praising Pruitt's "fantastic job" at the EPA, the president admitted, "I'm not happy about certain things, I'll be honest".

"We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!" he tweeted. Pruitt acknowledged behavior in Congressional hearings and televised interviews that violated federal regulations and spoke to extreme levels of wasteful spending and abuse of public office. But Wheeler told The Hill newspaper this week that he's not interested in the top EPA job.

More news: Oil falls as Trump demands OPEC cut prices

While Mink and her husband claim that Pruitt "fled the restaurant" shortly after the exchange, an EPA spokesperson says the exchange was civil and even welcome. When he started looking into Trump's policies, Wheeler said, "I was fully on board".

But some worry that his promotion may accelerate the Trump administration's determined dismantling of the EPA. Andrew Wheeler, Pruitt's former deputy administrator, an erstwhile Senate aide, and a former coal industry lobbyist, will act as the agency's interim director, President Trump revealed via Twitter.

On Tuesday, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president and White House were looking into "troublesome" reports about Pruitt. 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. However, Schatz said Pruitt's "worst transgression was that he systematically worked on behalf of polluters to poison our air and our water and make climate change worse".

Pruitt also was recently confronted at a DC restaurant by a woman who asked him to resign.

"Andrew Wheeler is the flawless choice to serve as Acting Administrator".

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