Scott Pruitt resigns -- July 5, 2018 at 3:50 PM

Ismael LynchJul 06, 2018

His deputy Andrew Wheeler will take over as acting head of the agency, Mr Trump said.

Steve Milloy, who served on Trump's transition team at the EPA, told Breitbart News that Pruitt did a great job advancing the president's agenda of rolling back risky and damaging regulations President Barack Obama put in place, and Wheeler is just as committed as his former boss.

Trump announced on Twitter that he had accepted Pruitt's resignation as EPA administrator, adding that EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will become the regulatory agency's acting chief on 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". The Washington Post reports top Pruitt aides have detailed further questionable spending and management decisions to congressional investigators. He even told them to contact conservative groups and companies to find a lucrative job for his unemployed wife, including as a Chick-fil-A franchisee. As Oklahoma's former attorney general, he waged a legal fight against environmental rules implemented by the agency he eventually would head. 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.

From a policy perspective, Pruitt was one of Trump's most effective Cabinet members. Coming into office as a critic of EPA and a climate skeptic, Pruitt moved aggressively to scale back Obama-era moves on climate change, automobile pollution standards and other industrial pollutants.

His alleged misconduct has resulted in scores of investigations and inquiries by government ethics authorities ranging from the Government Accountability Office to the EPA's own inspector general to the White House itself.

These are some of the most significant environmental protections Pruitt was in the process of eliminating - and which Wheeler could continue rolling back. He rented an apartment linked to oil industry lobbyists in a pricey neighborhood of the capital for a mere US$50 a night, a sum he only paid for on nights he actually slept there.

But Mr Pruitt has been embroiled in allegations of ethics violations for months, including issues with his travel and security expenses and a condo arrangement.

Republicans earlier this year countered that Wheeler, 53, was well-qualified to lead the agency, having worked at the EPA early in his career and serving as Republican staff chief of the Senate Environment Committee before becoming a lobbyist nine years ago.

Trump told reporters on Air Force One on Thursday en route to Montana that Pruitt "did an outstanding job" and resigned of his own accord.

He's been accused of misspending taxpayer money in various ways - on travel, security details, pay raises for staff and office extravagances - and of being cozy with the energy executives he's charged with regulating. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was sacked previous year after it was disclosed he took costly charter flights instead of commercial planes.

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