Consistency Expected Following Pruitt’s Departure From EPA

July 9, 2018

Following Scott Pruitt’s resignation last week as EPA Administrator following months of scandals, major policy changes at the Agency are not expected with the naming of Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler as interim head.

“I don’t think the overall agenda is going to change that much, because we’re implementing what the president has laid out for the agency,” Wheeler told the Washington Post. “[President Trump] made several campaign promises that we are working to fulfill here. But there will probably be a little bit of difference in the way Administrator Pruitt and I will talk about some issues.”

Scott Pruitt’s record at the EPA is deeply contentious depending on your point of view. Supporters believe he reined in a rouge agency with decisions, including pulling back former President Obama's Clean Power Plan, initiating a rewrite of the Waters of the U.S. rule and ending sue-and-settle with environmental groups. Mr. Pruitt also advocated for the U.S. to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a position eventually endorsed by the president.

Critics widely accused Pruitt of rolling back important safeguards and endangering public and environmental health, and they have expressed their displeasure with Wheeler stepping in as interim head of EPA based on his experience as a coal industry lobbyist.

Wheeler started his professional career in EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) before working as the staff director on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.

With Scott Pruitt gone from EPA, environmentalists’ next target will be Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has rolled back a number of Obama-era regulations, and who, like Pruitt, has been accused of ethical lapses.