Under fire for ethics scandals, US EPA chief Pruitt resigns

Ethical questions have been raised about Scott Pruitt's management decisions as administrator of the EPA

It's this notoriety and insider savvy that could make Wheeler unsafe; unlike Pruitt, who was relatively new to Washington when he took the job leading the EPA, Wheeler could continue to work closely with old friends.

Scandal-hit Scott Pruitt has resigned as head of the US Environmental Protection Agency. Trump says, "Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this".

Trump also announced that Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler would take the agency's helm as acting administrator starting Monday.

Last month, while praising Pruitt's "fantastic job" at the EPA, the president admitted, "I'm not happy about certain things, I'll be honest". That quest included setting up a call with Chick-fil-A executives, in which he discussed her becoming a franchisee, as well as outreach to a conservative judicial group that eventually hired Marlyn Pruitt. The former Oklahoma attorney general, who sued the agency more than a dozen times before running it, had been expected to return to electoral politics and run for governor, senator or possibly president. He's been investigated for undertaking expensive, first-class worldwide travel with a large detail, and for spending $43,000 to build a soundproof phone booth in his office. Many on the Right noted that Pruitt's behavior was either similar or better than that of previous EPA administrators.

Later, Wheeler worked as a lobbyist representing Murray Energy and its CEO Robert Murray, a prominent Trump backer who denies the science of climate change. Many of the EPA regulations Pruitt scraped or delayed had not yet taken effect, and the tens of thousands of lost coal mining jobs the president pledged to bring back never materialized. It was co-owned by the wife of a veteran fossil fuels lobbyist whose firm had sought regulatory rollbacks from EPA.

"Pruitt is the swamp", Laura Ingraham, a host on Fox News, which Trump is known to watch avidly, tweeted on Tuesday.

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Pruitt's notoriety, which was bolstered by his penchant for high-profile events in addition to his constant stream of eyebrow-raising scandals, gave a profile that far exceeded that of a typical EPA chief.

Judith Enck, an Obama-era former EPA regional administrator, told Mother Jones in an interview ahead of Wheeler's confirmation as deputy EPA administrator in April that Wheeler serving as EPA chief would be comparable to "having a tobacco lobbyist heading up the American Lung Association".

Kristin Mink, a Maryland teacher, made headlines earlier this week when she confronted Scott Pruitt while holding her two-year-old son in a Washington, D.C. restaruant, urging him to resign.

Pruitt's EPA moved to rescind the Clean Water Rule, which clarified the Clean Water Act to prohibit industries from dumping pollutants into streams and wetlands.

Wheeler's resume reads like an environmental advocate's nightmare for green groups that push for stronger environmental protection.

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