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'
© Youtube screenshot

While many Democrats are cheering the imminent departure of embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA moves to raise ethanol levels in gasoline | Dems look to counter White House climate council | Zinke cleared of allegations tied to special election EPA pushes forward plan to increase ethanol mix in gasoline Trump: The solitary executive MORE, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiHillicon Valley: Social media faces scrutiny after New Zealand attacks | YouTube removed 'tens of thousands' of shooting videos | DHS chief warns of state-backed cyber threats | House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality Republican senators who voted against Trump have no excuses Manchin says he won't support LGBTQ protection bill as written 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 TrumpWarren: 'White supremacists pose a threat to the United States like any other terrorist group' National Enquirer paid 0,000 for Bezos texts: report Santorum: Trump should 'send emails to a therapist' instead of tweeting 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 InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Dems look to rebuild 'blue wall' Funding caps, border wall set stage for defense budget battle Trump's claims of defeating ISIS roil Congress 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 ChuMnuchin to consider providing more penalty relief for taxpayers Dems seek relief for worried taxpayers in tough filing season IRS watchdog urges agency to provide more underpayment penalty relief 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.”