EPA Head Pruitt Resigns
President Donald J. Trump revealed Thursday via Twitter that Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned.
“I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” Trump wrote. “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.”
Later, Trump stopped briefly to speak with reporters on Air Force One, noting that the decision did not come from the White House.
“Scott is a terrific guy. And he came to me and he said, ‘I have such great confidence in the administration. I don’t want to be a distraction.’ And I think Scott felt that he was a distraction.”
Pruitt had been under fire in recent months for allegations of improper spending of taxpayer money, self-dealing and inappropriate use of staff.
His resignation letter cited the “unrelenting attacks” as the reason for his stepping down.
“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.”
Pruitt made his first speech at confirmed administrator in February 2017 and was careful to not talk partisanship, instead focusing on the goal of giving states a larger collaborative role in the regulation process.
Many industry groups, including the National Association of Home Builders and the American Chemistry Council, praised Pruitt’s appointment when it was first announced, and within his time as administrator the EPA dealt with pressing industry issues, such as the Toxic Substances Control Act and lead paint cases.
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Many industry groups praised Pruitt’s appointment, including the National Association of Home Builders and the American Chemistry Council, and within his time as administrator the EPA dealt with pressing industry issues, such as the Toxic Substances Control Act and lead paint cases.
In August 2017, Pruitt announced that the agency had eliminated a monthslong backlog of new chemical cases that needed TSCA safety reviews, something the group had been trying to clear for some time.
When Pruitt was confirmed, the EPA had about 600 new chemicals that were “stuck” in the review process. What’s considered a normal caseload for the agency at one time is about 300 cases, and when Pruitt made the announcement, there were approximately 308 under current review, with an additional 74 that are labeled for “testing and long-term information gathering by submitters.”
At that time Pruitt also announced a number of plans and new measures regarding chemicals and the TSCA.
Just a month later, a federal appeals court ordered the EPA to revise standards that protect children against lead paint. That came to fruition a few weeks ago, when the agency released a proposal to lower the dust-lead hazard standards (the amount of lead that can be found in dust and dirt before it's considered a hazard).
And, just a few weeks prior to that, the EPA announced that it had decided to move forward with a ruling on paint-stripper methylene chloride, prohibiting the consumer and commercial use of the chemical.
What Happens Now
As Trump indicated in his tweet, beginning today (July 9) Andrew Wheeler will take over as acting administrator.
Wheeler is a former lawyer and lobbyist for firm Faegre Baker Daniels, working primarily with clients in the fossil fuel industry, and is set to maintain Pruitt’s direction.