While the long-overdue departure of ceaselessly corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt on Thursday was undoubtedly a small win for the public and the planet, environmentalists were quick to note that "there's no happy ending to this story" as Pruitt is being replaced by former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, who worked for years as an aide to fervent climate-denier Sen.
"It's one thing after another with this guy", a confidante quoted Trump as saying.
"It's sad. I guess it's not surprising because clearly what Trump wants to do is dismantle the EPA".
Trump had sought to ignore Pruitt's problems, officials said, even as he enjoyed spending time with Pruitt, who often struck an adoring tone in his interactions with the president.
As was reported a few months ago, Wheeler, the acting head of the EPA, is a longtime coal lobbyist who questions the validity of climate change. Former aide Kevin Chmielewski told CNN that Pruitt and his staff kept "secret" calendars and schedules to hide controversial contacts with industry representatives and The Washington Post and The New York Times revealed aspects of testimony Pruitt aides gave to Congress about the EPA administrator enlisted them for personal errands.
"Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this", added Trump. But even though Trump had concluded Pruitt must go, they write, it was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who called to break the news to the administrator. Pruitt then began booking his own TV appearances, these people said. He's been investigated for undertaking expensive, first-class global travel with a large detail, and for spending $43,000 to build a soundproof phone booth in his office. The report has not yet been published, officials said.
In other words, Pruitt was doing exactly what the president wanted.
The list of accusations levelled against the 50-year-old EPA chief had grown nearly too long to itemise. Thanks so much to this community for caring about ethics and the environment and signaling to the Trump administration that you were paying attention to the shenanigans the White House tried to hide. He's also a former top aide to GOP Sen.
From a policy perspective, Pruitt was one of Trump's most effective Cabinet members.
Spent years playing various roles on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees the EPA, drafting regulations on chemical safety, air and water pollution and climate change - generally seeking to reduce government regulations on industries that generate greenhouse gases. Here's what you need to know about Wheeler's background as he takes over the agency tasked with preserving the country's environment and natural resources. Administrator Pruitt's ethical scandals and his undermining of the President's commitment to biofuels and Midwest farmers were distracting from the agency's otherwise strong progress to free the nation of burdensome and harmful government regulations.
It's possible that Trump will decide to keep Wheeler on as EPA head, but his prospects might be hampered by anti-Trump social media posts that Wheeler made before the 2016 election.
When a new administration takes office, one expects some of its predecessor's priorities to be reexamined.
"Clear-eyed leadership at EPA could help prevent the carbon bubble we are headed for as fossil fuel reserves end up stranded and potentially trillions of dollars get wiped off energy company books", Whitehouse said in a statement emailed to NPR.
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