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Scott Pruitt quits as head of U.S. environment agency

Scott Pruitt quits as head of U.S. environment agency

In the very same pair of tweets announcing Pruitt's departure, President Trump named the man who would be taking his place - for now, at least: Andrew Wheeler, the longtime Washington insider confirmed by the Senate as Pruitt's deputy in April.

That's because Pruitt, who resigned Thursday, always saw himself as an opponent of the agency's core mission: protecting the environment and the American people from the excesses of industry.

Despite Pruitt's blowing public money on everything from over-the-top security details to luxury fountain pens, it took till today for president Trump to announce Pruitt's resignation on Twitter.

"We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!" he tweeted. Come Monday, Wheeler will be the agency's acting chief.

Wheeler, whom Trump appointed as the EPA's second-in-command, is a former lobbyist that represented America's largest coal mining company, the erstwhile vice president of the Washington Coal Club, and ex-legislative aide to Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who is among Congress's most outspoken climate change deniers.

"I don't want to be a distraction.' And I think Scott felt that he was a distraction", said Trump. He worked as a legislative aide on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for several years.

Wheeler is a Butler County native and Case Western Reserve University graduate who formerly worked for Ohio GOP Sen.

"Elevating former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to head the EPA is only trading one fossil fuel friend for another", he said.

As recently as June 8, Trump praised Pruitt, telling reporters on the South Lawn of the White House that the EPA administrator was "doing a great job within the walls of the EPA", and that "we're setting records".

"In addition to spending a decade getting paid to push corporate polluter interests in Washington, Wheeler has made clear he will do everything in his power to roll back essential safeguards that protect our air, water, and families from harmful toxins like mercury, arsenic, lead, and other pollution".

But despite the consistent praise, Trump finally decided by Thursday morning that Pruitt's behavior was too much of a political burden for him to bear.

Pruitt was at the White House with other cabinet members on Wednesday evening, celebrating the Fourth of July and watching fireworks.

The list of accusations levelled against the 50-year-old EPA chief had grown nearly too long to itemise.

His job had been in jeopardy since it emerged he had leased a property a year ago that was co-owned by the wife of a veteran fossil fuels lobbyist, whose firm had sought regulatory rollbacks from the EPA.

The official, describing Team Trump's feeling about Pruitt, wondered whether he would still hold his job as he could crop up in Democratic candidates' ads hitting the president's "swamp", CNN reported Wednesday.

"It has become increasingly challenging for the EPA to carry out its mission with the administrator under investigation", said Barrasso, who is from Wyoming.


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