Vermont delegation says good riddance as controversial EPA administrator Scott Pruitt resigns
Trump tweeted that he "will always be grateful" to Pruitt for his "outstanding job" during his tenure in this position. Deputy EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, a longtime lobbyist for fossil fuel industries, will serve as acting head of the EPA starting Monday.
"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda," tweeted Trump.
While Pruitt may have been the darling of conservatives, climate deniers, the coal industry, and others, for actions like recommending the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accords, he has been the subject of increasing scrutiny not only for his dismantling of environmental regulations but also for his personal conduct in office, particularly his excessive spending on travel, as well as outfitting his office. Vermont's delegation have been among the controversial administrator's fiercest critics.
"It's about time. Pruitt's tenure has been an abomination. His legacy will be one of arrogance, misuse of taxpayer funds, and dismantlement of EPA's core mission to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink," Rep. Peter Welch said in a statement Thursday.
In April, the Vermont delegation joined a record-breaking number of lawmakers in calling on Pruitt to resign. He is currently under 13 federal investigations for, among other things, installing a $43,000 phone booth in his office, an inappropriate meeting with a coal mining group and the dismissal of scientists from an advisory committee.
E-mails first reported on by Politico in May show that Pruitt tried to suppress publication of a public health study of PFOA/PFAS contamination — the chemicals that contaminated hundreds of drinking water wells of residents in the Bennington area.
"My opinion of this White House and of EPA leadership, already quite low, hits rock bottom when I see them block the release of a scientific report meant to protect nursing mothers and pregnant women from toxic exposure, because they believe it will cause a `public relations nightmare' or concern from the public and Congress," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in an email in May.
Pruitt's replacement Wheeler has lobbied for the fossil-fuel industry for decades, including for Murray Energy — the nation's largest coal company. He also led the team at public relations firm Faegre Baker Daniels that lobbied to scale back Bears Ears National Monument.
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