Scott Pruitt Resigns as EPA Chief Amid Flood of Allegations
President Donald Trump announced the former Oklahoma attorney general's departure over social media, names Wheeler as acting head
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned from his post Thursday amid a continuing onslaught of allegations of misconduct.
“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” President Donald Trump said on social media Thursday. “Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this.”
“The Senate-confirmed deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA,” Trump continued. “I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”
An EPA spokesman deferred to Trump’s statement regarding the resignation. The announcement by the president comes on the heels of months of accusations that Pruitt improperly spent federal funds on travel since he became agency administrator in 2017.
The spending in question included travel, office decorating, security, an apartment rental from a lobbyist, and other expenses, which resulted in two congressional hearings. The allegations prompted bipartisan concern, with even close ally Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) saying Pruitt might have to resign if the behavior continued.
The onslaught of allegations continued, making it increasingly difficult for Pruitt or any of the other Trump political appointees at EPA to carry out the president’s policy agenda.
The latest allegation came in a letter to the EPA inspector general (IG) from Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), claiming Pruitt and some of his aides were altering federal records concerning whom he had met with and when. Altering official documents is a violation of multiple federal laws and regulations.
“Now, at least, the other Trump appointees in the agency can focus on doing their jobs without worrying about decisions being made without their having a chance to brief the administrator,” said a former Trump administration political appointee who spoke to LifeZette on background.
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics released a letter on April 6 that listed questionable expenses, such as paying $50 a night to rent a room from a lobbyist, traveling first class, and demoting or reassigning agency employees who were trying to ensure the expenses didn’t violate internal rules or the law.
The Government Accountability Office then released a report on April 16 that found that the agency violated federal spending laws when purchasing a $43,000 soundproof privacy booth so that Pruitt could make private phone calls in his office.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Center for Energy and Environment Director Myron Ebell, who headed Trump’s EPA transition team, said he expects Wheeler to continue Trump’s regulatory reform policies that Pruitt had pushed with great effectiveness.
“We have full confidence in acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to carry President Trump’s important EPA reform agenda forward. The reforms undertaken will have positive consequences for American consumers, the economy, and the environment.
“On behalf of CEI, we thank Scott Pruitt for his outstanding service as EPA administrator, and we regret that personal troubles got in the way. Over the past 18 months, the EPA has made tremendous progress in ensuring that Americans have access to affordable and reliable energy.
“We are particularly pleased with Pruitt’s leadership getting the United States out of the Paris Climate Treaty, rolling back climate rules like the so-called Clean Power Plan, replacing the Waters of the United States rule, and establishing new science transparency rules.”