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Government Watchdogs: Both Pruitt, Wheeler "Wrong" for EPA

In his resignation letter, Pruitt informed President Donald Trump he was leaving his post "effective as of July 6." (Wikimedia Commons)
In his resignation letter, Pruitt informed President Donald Trump he was leaving his post "effective as of July 6." (Wikimedia Commons)
July 6, 2018

WASHINGTON – Government ethics and watchdog groups, even some conservatives, are saying Scott Pruitt's resignation as Environmental Protection Agency administrator is long overdue.

During his one-year tenure, Pruitt worked relentlessly to dismantle Obama-era regulations aimed at reducing pollution. But while most conservatives saw him as President Donald Trump's most effective Cabinet member, he started to lose favor over misuse of power and spending a lot more taxpayer dollars than his predecessors on travel and security expenses.

David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, thinks Pruitt was never the right person for the job.

"I don't see how anyone on the conservative side of the equation, that's really a conservative – and you know, understands personal responsibility and ethics, moral values, all those things – I don't see how anyone could be supportive of him after all the things that have happened," says Jenkins.

Jenkins says now, Trump should follow the lead of Ronald Reagan, who once was in a similar situation, by appointing someone who sees the value and mission of the EPA. The agency's current deputy administrator, Andrew Wheeler – a former coal-company lobbyist – steps in as acting EPA chief until a permanent replacement is named.

Environmental groups predict the Trump administration will continue its pattern of appointing the least likely candidate to head the agency. Kara Cook-Schultz, director of U.S. PIRG's (Public Interest Research Group) toxics program, thinks the president should take time to really understand the purpose of the EPA.

"Scott Pruitt has failed in the EPA mission to protect human health and the environment, and Americans are less safe today than they should be, due to his poor decisions and leadership," Cook-Schultz said.

And the Center for Western Priorities has noted interim EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler's track record of lobbying to reduce protections for public lands to expand uranium mining.

With Scott Pruitt's resignation, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke becomes the Cabinet member with the most ongoing investigations.

Trimmel Gomes/Dan Heyman, Public News Service - AZ