Pelosi: Pruitt's successor even more focused on advancing 'the toxic Trump agenda'

Pelosi: Pruitt's successor even more focused on advancing 'the toxic Trump agenda'
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While many Democrats are cheering the imminent departure of embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittTrump admin appeals ruling ordering EPA to ban pesticide Government watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels MORE, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDisclosures suggest rebates and insurers responsible for rising out-of-pocket drug costs Democrats keeping GOP from motivating voters with Trump impeachment threat, analyst says Celebrities, lawmakers wear black to support Kavanaugh’s accuser MORE (D-Calif.) is warning that his successor, in her view, will be worse. 

Pruitt, who will step down on Friday amid a string of escalating scandals surrounding his management of the agency, will be replaced temporarily by Deputy EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who’s long fought to roll back environmental protections governing the fossil fuels industry.

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Pelosi, a staunch environmentalist, suggested Wheeler will prove more effective than Pruitt when it comes to deregulating environmental safeguards — a dynamic she says will only heighten the threat to clean air, clean water and other public safety concerns governed by the EPA.

“It is deeply concerning that the President has chosen to elevate a coal lobby kingpin even more focused than his predecessor on advancing the toxic Trump agenda and destroying critical protections for the health and safety of families,” she said Thursday in a statement. 

“Even with the departure of Pruitt, the Trump Cabinet will remain the most corrupt Administration in history.”

Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general whose rise on the national stage was fueled largely by his attacks on the EPA, has come under fire on multiple fronts for his use of taxpayer funds, his close association with lobbyists representing industries regulated by the agency and his use of EPA staff for personal errands, among other alleged misdeeds.

He is the subject of at least 13 separate investigations, including those being conducted by the EPA’s own internal oversight office and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE, who has defended Pruitt throughout the storm, announced Thursday that he had accepted the EPA chief's resignation. 

“Within the Agency Scott has done an outstanding job, and I will always be thankful to him for this,” Trump tweeted.

Trump later told reporters that there was "no final straw" with Pruitt and that the embattled EPA chief "felt that he was a distraction" and decided to resign on his own.

Wheeler, while carrying a much lower profile than Pruitt, also has much longer track record of fighting against environment regulations — as well as more experience in the dealings of Washington. 

The one-time chief of staff to Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofePentagon releases report on sexual assault risk Trump privately calls Mattis ‘Moderate Dog’: report Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Okla.), Capitol Hill’s most prominent climate change denier, Wheeler also served in the EPA under former President George W. Bush and, before joining the Trump administration, had lobbied for Murray Energy, the nation’s largest coal company, among other fossil fuels interests.

His anti-regulatory zeal has made him both a champion to Republicans and a pariah to Democrats and environmental groups. He was confirmed as EPA’s deputy director in April on a 53-45 vote that cut largely on party lines.

Trump on Thursday said he has confidence that Wheeler “will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda.” 

“We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!” he said.

The Democrats hold the opposite view. Echoing Pelosi, Rep. Judy ChuJudy May ChuState Department: Allegations of racism 'disgusting and false' Dems vow to grab Trump tax returns upon taking majority Overnight Health Care: Drug price fight heats up | Skepticism over drug companies' pledges | Ads target HHS secretary over child separations | Senate confirms VA pick MORE (D-Calif.) warned that Wheeler will put industry interests above those of public health. 

“While coal companies profit, our children and our earth will ultimately pay the price,” she said Thursday. “That’s the real crime.”