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Embattled U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigns

Scott Pruitt

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt

Posted: July 5, 2018 at 7:38 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

For several months Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator has been the front and center of ethics investigations for outsized security spending, first-class flights, and even a moderately priced condo lease. He tendered his resignation on Thursday. 

Pruitt’s resignation letter was released to media outlets and expressed no regret for any action he had taken since heading his post to lead the EPA. His departure comes on the heels of more than a half a dozen federal and congressional investigations. 

“It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring,” Pruitt wrote. “However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”

Former coal industry executive and Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will assume the interim administrator position on Monday, Trump said in a tweet. 

Mere days ago, several of Pruitt’s former senior staffers spoke to House oversight committee investigators and revealed new details in ethics allegations against Pruitt. 

Pruitt, Oklahoma’s former attorney general, was close to the oil and gas industry and during his tenure filed more than a dozen lawsuits against the agency he was picked to lead. After he arrived in Washington, he worked relentlessly to dismantle Obama-era environmental regulations that aimed to reduce toxic pollution and planet-warming carbon emissions.

Pruitt crisscrossed the country on taxpayer dollars, speaking with industry groups and rubbing elbows with GOP donors during his one-year tenure, but showed little interest in listening to advocates he derided as the “environmental left.” 

Pruitt mirrored Trump’s skepticism about mainstream climate science and was a severe critic of the Paris climate agreement. When Pruitt moved to boost fossil fuel production and roll back regulations opposed by corporate interests, Trump applauded his efforts. 

Pruitt’s resignation follows a series of revelations involving pricey trips with first-class airline seats and a $43,000 soundproof booth for making private phone calls. His demand for  24-hours-a-day protection by armed officers resulted in a swollen 20-member security detail that blew through overtime budgets and racked up expenses of more than $3 million.

Over the course of the last year, Pruitt also had ordered his EPA staff to do personal chores for him. 

Pruitt publicly denied any knowledge of massive raises awarded to two close aides. Documents later showed Pruitt’s chief of staff had signed off on the pay hikes, indicating he had the administrator’s consent.

Mr. Pruitt also played a lead role in urging Mr. Trump to follow through on his campaign pledge to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement. 

Mr. Pruitt is the subject of at least 13 federal investigations. 

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