EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt amid allegations of ethical misconduct resigned on Thursday effective today. President Donald Trump named deputy administrator Andrew Wheeler as Acting Administrator.
“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 in his resignation letter to President Donald Trump. “However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”
In April, the Government Accountability Office found that he broke federal law with the authorization of soundproof phone booth constructed in his office with $43,000 of Environmental Protection Agency funds.
On July 5, the New York Times reported that a scheduler at the EPA was asked to alter past events on Pruitt’s schedule, potentially in violation of federal law and was later fired.
According to The Washington Post, former EPA staff member told Congressional investigators that Pruitt asked staff to help his wife find a job with a requested salary of at least $200,000. He is accused of using his position to attempt to obtain a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife.
Two Democratic Senators accused Pruitt of using a private email to conduct official business in order to avoid a FOIA request. He gave raises to EPA staff members without White House knowledge and consent. In total, Pruitt faced 16 different investigations.
Pruitt prior to the mounting scandals was cheered by conservatives happy with his leadership in rolling back EPA regulations like the Waters of the U.S. rule, the Clean Power Plan, and the Paris Climate Agreement put in place during the Obama Administration that was believed to be economically harmful. Many conservative leaders and GOP lawmakers rallied behind Pruitt in the midst of negative media reports.
Some Iowa elected officials, however, were upset with Pruitt’s lack of support for the Renewable Fuel Standard and was seen as stifling the renewable fuel industry’s growth. He also recently raised the ire of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) after handing out a hardship waiver to an oil refinery owner who was an ex-Trump adviser.
EPA handing out ‘hardship’ waivers to billionaires like Carl Icahn is undermining integrity of the RenewableFuelStandard. Pruitt shld live up 2his commitment to midwest senators &support the law/not mess w congressional intent BAILING OUT BILLIONAIRES ISNT HELPING ETHANOL/FARMERS
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) April 30, 2018
Several Republican officials in Iowa welcomed the news of Pruitt’s resignation.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) recently said that Pruitt “is about as swampy as you get here in Washington, D.C., and if the president wants to drain the swamp, he needs to take a look at his own cabinet.”
She tweeted on Thursday:
— Joni Ernst (@SenJoniErnst) July 5, 2018
“Scott Pruitt’s departure is long overdue,” Congressman David Young (R-Iowa) said in a released statement. “His actions as EPA administrator not only raised serious ethical concerns, but hurt Iowa farmers by recklessly undercutting of the Renewable Fuel Standard. It is my hope that Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler will uphold the President’s commitment to the RFS and get the EPA back on track.”
“Today’s resignation from Administrator Pruitt must result in new EPA leadership that will honor the president’s commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said in response to the news. “I will continue to fight for a robust Renewable Fuel Standard by working with our federal delegation in Washington, D.C., to hold the administration to this promise. Iowa farmers deserve nothing less.”
“President Trump made the right decision,” Grassley said in a statement insinuating that Pruitt was asked to resign.
“Administrator Pruitt’s ethical scandals and his undermining of the President’s commitment to biofuels and Midwest farmers were distracting from the agency’s otherwise strong progress to free the nation of burdensome and harmful government regulations. Fewer things are more important for government officials than maintaining public trust. Administrator Pruitt, through his own actions, lost that trust. I hope Acting Administrator Wheeler views this as an opportunity to restore this Administration’s standing with farmers and the biofuels industry. I’m looking forward to working with Acting Administrator Wheeler to do just that,” he added.
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