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 PruittOn The Money: Conservative blocks disaster relief bill | Trade high on agenda as Trump heads to Japan | Boeing reportedly faces SEC probe over 737 Max | Study finds CEO pay rising twice as fast as worker pay Overnight Energy: Democrats push EPA to collect 4K in 'excessive' Pruitt travel expenses | Greens angered over new rules for rocket fuel chemical | Inslee to join youth climate strikers in Las Vegas Democrats push EPA to collect 4K from Pruitt for 'excessive airfare expenses' MORE, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Hillicon Valley: Facebook won't remove doctored Pelosi video | Trump denies knowledge of fake Pelosi videos | Controversy over new Assange charges | House Democrats seek bipartisan group on net neutrality 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 TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit 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 InhofeOvernight Defense: Details on Senate's 0B defense bill | Bill rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps | Backfills money for border wall | Defense chief says more troops could head to Mideast Senate panel rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps, advances defense bill that backfills wall money Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Trump nominates Shanahan as Pentagon chief | House panel advances bill to block military funds for border wall | Trump defends Bolton despite differences 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 ChuOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access The Go-Go's rock the stage at annual 'We Write the Songs' DC concert Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment 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.”