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Brief #34—Environment

Policy Summary
Amid months of investigation for as many as 19 scandals, Scott Pruitt resigned his post as the Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday, July 5th. Many rejoiced that this enabler of deregulation had finally given up his position, but the administration has a very different story. Trump announced Pruitt’s resignation in a tweet where he thanked Pruitt for his service and congratulated him on an “outstanding job.” Trump made no mention of the various scandals, and said that Pruitt himself decided to resign so as not to be a distraction. Pruitt also cited the “unrelenting attacks” that had “taken a toll” on his family in his letter of resignation. Other aides have stepped down in support of Pruitt. However, Pruitt’s resignation comes in the midst of 13 federal inquiries into his spending and management decisions, including security and travel expenses, a $43,000 soundproof phone booth, barring certain scientists from applying for grants, a $50 a night condo deal from a lobbyist, firing of personnel for questioning these practices, and pay raises for those deemed loyal. These investigations will continue despite his resignation.  Andrew Wheeler, the recently Senate confirmed deputy to Scott Pruitt, will take on the role of EPA Secretary.

Analysis
While Pruitt’s exit has been celebrated, he left behind quite a mess and has lost the trust of taxpayers and personnel alike. His exorbitant spending showed a complete disregard for the taxpayer, and this will continue due to all the investigations and court proceedings pending. Perhaps even more troubling, is the lack of support for whistleblowers within the EPA. Watchdog agencies and journalists have worked hard to keep tabs on all of Pruitt’s actions, but received little reaction from the powers that be. In addition, Pruitt has managed to roll back significant amounts of legislation to protect our country and curb the toxins that may be our demise. Pruitt’s acting replacement, Andrew Wheeler, has a history as an energy industry lobbyist with Murray Energy and connections with other coal and energy lobbyists like Xcel Energy and Energy Fuel Resources, Inc. Many fear that his years in the industry will make him a more effective implementer of Trump’s environmental agenda, and that it will occur more quietly than under Pruitt. He will serve as the acting secretary until Trump nominates a new Secretary that must be confirmed by the Senate.

Resistance Resources

    • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – a charity collective of lawyers and scientists who defend and protect the environment from pollution and corporate greedContact
      This brief was compiled by Megan Toney. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Megan@USResistnews.org

Photo by: Thomas Richter

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