JUL 06, 2018 12:55 PM PDT

A win for the environment: Scott Pruitt's resignation

We had all been wondering for a long time now how a self-acclaimed climate change denier could be in charge of the so-called Environmental Protection Agency. Protecting what, now, we asked, time and time again, as Scott Pruitt’s scandals kept on building. It sounded more like Pruitt was concerned with protecting his and his family’s own interests, as well of those of his Big Oil allies.

"A man who doesn’t believe in climate change never should have been in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency in the first place," Warren told The Hill. "And a government official that corrupt should have been fired by the President of the United States 28 scandals ago."

Though the official number of legal investigations against Pruitt totaled 16 (one did indeed prove him guilty of breaking the law), a hoard of other entities have asked for additional inquiries into the cacophony of other issues that Pruitt’s behavior raised - hence Warren’s reference to 28 scandals.

Those scandals range in theme from ethics to corruption. Just to name a few: he fired an aide after she questioned the practice of retroactively altering appointments on his calendar; he asked staff to find his wife a job with a salary of at least $200,000; he used official channels to try to get a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife; he used secret email addresses instead of official ones; and he generated excessive travel spending by chartering flights and flying first class, spending $90,000 on travel in a single week in July of 2018. None of those appear to be in the interest of the environment or public health.

Photo: Wall Street Journal

Pruitt’s actual impact on the environment has been overwhelmingly negative: from slashing national monuments to advocating for leaving the Paris climate accords, he has systematically been rolling back Obama-administration regulations for fossil fuels. “He halted an Obama-era request that fossil-fuel producers track methane emissions and overruled EPA scientists' plea to ban the insecticide chlorpyrifos. Pruitt stalled the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's effort to regulate power-plant emissions; wanted to weaken 2022-2025 car fuel economy standards; delayed the ‘Waters of the United States’ rule for two years; and wanted to downwardly revise the ‘social cost of carbon’” reports National Geographic.

Bears Ears National Monument was greatly reduced in size by Pruitt's advising. Photo: PBS

And though Pruitt’s ousting comes as cause to celebrate for the environment, many are rightly concerned about Trump's announcement that Pruitt's deputy, Andrew Wheeler, would replace him as head of the EPA. Warren describes Wheeler as “a longtime Washington insider and corporate lawyer who’s done the bidding of fossil fuel companies for decades.” He is expected to continue Pruitt’s environmental policies.

Sources: National Geographic, Fortune, CNBC, USA Today

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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