The 5 July 2018 blameworthy yet unrepentant fall from grace by EPA head, Scott Pruitt, had the typical staging and theatrics of any of the president’s* firings or resignations. Taking a page from his boss’ playbook, Pruitt had seemed not to care about appearances of corruption, having grabbed the gold in cavalier ways – an oil lobbyist’s condo for $50 a night, $43,000 for a soundproof phone booth in his office, $ hundreds of thousands for first class and chartered flights, a $3 million 20-member security detail, using EPA resources trying to get his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise, and more. When he resigned amid so many scandals, ethics violations, extravagant spending schemes, and lawsuits, he played the martyr when saying “The unrelenting attacks on me are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll” – and the saint by telling the president* “My desire in service to you has always been to bless you . . . I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence. I believe that same providence brought me into your service”. Such trauma-drama; you just can’t make this stuff up.
Pruitt, who was described by Richard Wolffe (and many others) as “The Worst EPA Administrator of All Time”, is gone – Goodbye to the worst EPA administrator of all time. But it can’t be overlooked that Pruit’s departure is just one spin of the “corporate-official revolving door syndrome”. Whether an elected or appointed official, or a corporate lobbyist or director, they don’t care which role they play, because they are all corporatists working for the good of corporations. And they don’t care if their government tenure is long or short, so long as they do maximum damage to society’s protections. Their purpose, and their only purpose, is to grease their own skids while eliminating any semblance of corporate regulation or restrictions. Pruitt is gone, but his damage is considerable. Said Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group “Sadly, the ideological fervor with which Pruitt pursued the destruction of environmental regulations and the agency itself live on”. Let me count just some of the ways.
- Dismantling the EPA, slashing staff and advisory panels, spying on employees
- Rolling back 25 EPA rules that protected the air, water, and climate
- Evaluating regulations based on cost in dollars rather than cost to the environment
- Minimizing restrictions required by the Clean Power Plan
- Reversing the ban for all food crop uses of chlorpyrifos
- Gutting the Waters of the United States rule so downstream impacts are exempt
More details can be found at – Scott Pruitt is out but his impact on the environment will be felt for years, EPA rollbacks already touching Americans’ lives, and 76 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump. With Pruitt gone, one would hope for reinstatement of some of these rules, or at least a breather from the onslaught. Unfortunately, there are always more shock troops waiting in the wings.
Andrew Wheeler, Pruitt’s replacement, was a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest coal company in the U.S., he served as a vice president of the Washington Coal Club industry association, and he lobbied the Department of the Interior to open Bears Ears National Monument to uranium mining. He also had been Chief of Staff for Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), described by some as the loudest and dumbest climate denier in the Senate. Environmentalists are duly concerned that Wheeler will follow the same ideology as Pruitt, but be much more effective. He is a Washington insider, quite familiar with navigating the network of the Federal government. An NPR commentator, Scott Segal, said “He is somebody who has been preparing for a position of responsibility like this really for all of his life”. Bob Deans of the Natural Resources Defense Council said of Wheeler “Going from a train wreck to a house on fire doesn’t give us comfort”. Read more at – Who Is Andrew Wheeler? Key Details On Trump’s Pick To Replace Scott Pruitt, and Andrew Wheeler: ‘point man for Trump’ focused on undoing Obama’s EPA agenda. Be careful what you wish for.