For months on end, Scott Pruitt seemed to defy the laws of gravity at the EPA, maintaining his job through more than a dozen scandals. But Pruitt’s term has ended after it was reported that President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly–presumably at the president’s behest–asked Pruitt for his resignation.
So the big question is, why now? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?
“There was just a matter of too many straws,” says Zack Colman, a reporter with E&E News. “What you had here was 13 ongoing federal investigations, and there was just this sense that more was going to keep coming out. And I think the case was finally made to the President that we can’t really keep weathering this.”
So in the face of so many ethics violations, why did Pruitt last so long when other cabinet officials did not? Colman says it’s because Pruitt was faithfully implementing the president’s vision for energy and environmental policy.
“He was rolling back regulations the industry despised, he was cutting what they thought was a heavy-handed agency that had been the ire of conservatives…and he was liked very much by the conservative base,” says Colman. “And I believe the case was made to him by advisers that Andrew Wheeler, the person who is now stepping into Scott Pruitt’s role, can do just as good a job because they share much of the same vision for the environment and for regulation.“
LISTEN to the entire episode to hear more from Zack Colman about Pruitt’s departure and the impact acting administrator Andrew Wheeler will have on the EPA and Trump’s broader deregulatory ambitions.
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