Trump's scandal-hit environment chief Pruitt resigns

Scott Pruitt

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Washington D.C.

After months spent staggering beneath the weight of roughly a dozen official ethics probes, mounting bipartisan criticism and one used mattress, Scott Pruitt made a decision to lay down his mantle as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday. Pruitt had become the focus of multiple investigations, including lavish spending, excessive security, questionable personal behaviour and allegedly using his influence to help his wife find work.

It was not immediately clear how Pruitt's resignation might affect those ongoing probes.

While Pruitt was a Washington novice, Wheeler is a consummate inside-the-beltway lobbyist who has served many companies that are subject - and sometimes resistant - to EPA regulation. Trump writes on Twitter, "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job". Trump says Pruitt is "a terrific guy".

In a statement, Friends of the Earth argued that fossil fuel industry insiders like Wheeler "have no business leading the EPA" and vowed to hold him accountable "for his efforts to harm our public health and environment" during his time as acting EPA chief.

That'll do, Scott Pruitt. "He made swamp creatures blush with his shameless excesses". "Shame", Democratic US Representative Gerry Connolly said.

The attacks Pruitt is responding to include calls to investigate his administration for various ethics violations and unprecedented taxpayer spending for office furniture and other unneeded items.

Mr. Pruitt was very qualified and worked diligently to protect our environment, while concomitantly providing regulatory certainty for our Nation's economy.

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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. He worked in the EPA under former President George H.W. Bush, spent years as a senior aide in the Senate working to defeat climate-related legislation and most recently was a lobbyist with many clients in the coal industry. "But let's not forget he was carrying out President Trump's policies".

"We urge him to immediately commit to undoing the massive damage to EPA's work done under Pruitt's leadership".

His job had been in jeopardy since it emerged he had leased a property previous year that was co-owned by the wife of a veteran fossil fuels lobbyist, whose firm had sought regulatory rollbacks from the EPA. Among the scandals engulfing his tenure is an accusation that he used his political position to secure his wife a six-figure salary job. "I love, she loves, we love Chick-fil-A as a franchise of faith and it's one of the best in the country", Pruitt explained in an interview.

During congressional testimony in April, Pruitt was unapologetic for the controversies, often blaming his staff for any agency missteps.

In the end, it wasn't "religious sterility", that brought him down.

Pruitt was also known for questioning the human role in global climate change. As Oklahoma's former attorney general, he waged a legal fight against the environmental rules implemented by the agency he eventually would head.

But at the same time, Pruitt was one of the most effective implementers of the President's agenda.

Despite President Trump's promises that he defends the Renewable Fuel Standard, Pruitt acted repeatedly to undercut the biofuel law.

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