My Two Cents About the Pruitt Resignation/Firing

Good Riddance Even if He Was a Potent Symbol of the Swamp


Dan and Sean have already expressed their views about today’s announcement that Scott Pruitt is out as EPA Administrator. I thought I’d add mine as well.  Scott Pruitt was a  potent symbol of corruption, the ultimate swamp creature who made laughable his boss’s claim that he would come to Washington and drain the swamp. And because Pruitt’s transgressions were so numerous, they kept the EPA in the limelight day after day.  As Sean notes, even Pruitt’s allies had begun to abandon him. At the end of the day, Pruitt helped opponents of the Trump Administration more than he helped his boss and reminded voters regularly that environmental protection was under assault  by a corrupt and venal leader.  Ultimately, that’s why he had to go, especially before the midterms in November.

Given his potency as a symbol, part of me wishes Pruitt would stay in office to keep the Trump Administration’s environmental transgressions in the headlines.  As Sean notes, Andrew Wheeler, the acting Administrator who is a former coal lobbyist and chief of staff to infamous climate denier James Inhofe, will continue the rollbacks that Pruitt began and may even do so more effectively (though I’m not so sure that the carelessness with which many of the rollbacks have taken place were only the work of Pruitt– expediency and speed may have been more important at the outset of the administration than care and process).  Wheeler will certainly garner less attention.  The steady assault on environmental protection will take place more quietly and may do less to motivate Trump opponents to vote in November.  For similar reasons, I argued last year that I was glad Trump announced he was pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement: he brought much greater attention to the fact that his administration was already gutting the U.S. commitment under Paris and motivated much more significant opposition to his retrograde climate policies.

And yet, good riddance to Scott Pruitt. It is one thing (and a very bad one) to lead a wholesale assault on environmental protection. It is quite another to abuse staff, violate ethics rules and perhaps the law, raid the public coffers for personal gain and glory, have his staff drive from Ritz Carlton to Ritz Carlton looking for his favorite moisturizer, and otherwise make a mockery of public service.  No governmental official deserves to remain in office after committing even half of the offenses of which Pruitt is accused.  So even though I think his resignation removes a potent and corrupt symbol from public view, I am happy to see him go.


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Reader Comments

15 Replies to “My Two Cents About the Pruitt Resignation/Firing”

  1. Wheeler, or other successor, can only be more effective than Pruitt at dismantling the EPA if responsible citizens care more about moisturizer and petty corruption than the environment. If that is true, then America’s problems are far more troublesome than Pruitt and Wheeler.

    1. In the spirit of fairness and good will it behooves all of us to support and encourage Mr. Andrew Wheeler in his new job as Secretary of EPA. May God grant him many years.

  2. some good news:

    5 Jul: Bloomberg: UN’s Green Climate Fund at ‘Low Point’ After Director Resigns
    By Jess Shankleman

    The head of the Green Climate Fund, set up by the United Nations in the fight against global warming, stepped down abruptly after less than two years on the job, leaving the organization’s future in doubt.

    Howard Bamsey, an Australian diplomat who served as the GCF’s executive director since January 2017, resigned after a “difficult” meeting in which no new projects were approved, according to a statement released after the gathering in Songdo, South Korea…

    “Everyone said this is the low point,” said Jasmine Hyman, an environmental consultant at the British firm E Co. who attended the meeting. “This was a disappointing meeting but hopefully it’s a canary in the mine and not a nail in the coffin.”…

    GCF funding supports 76 projects worldwide and a staff of 250 in Songdo. Bage said the fund has started the process of finding a new executive director.

  3. Pruitt’s Replacement Andrew Wheeler Will Be ‘Much Smarter’ Threat, Environmentalists Fear:

    “…….”I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!” Trump tweeted.

    Unfortunately, Wheeler’s staunch dedication to Trump’s deregulatory environmental agenda is expected by both the president and green groups.

    Wheeler is a former government staffer and coal lobbyist with decades of DC experience, which critics and allies agree could aid him in implementing Trump’s agenda without the distractions posed by Pruitt’s soundproof phone booth or unorthodox rental arrangements, POLITICO reported.

    “Wheeler is much smarter and will try to keep his efforts under the radar in implementing Trump’s destructive agenda,” Vice President for Political Affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund Jeremy Symons told POLITICO. “That should scare anyone who breathes………”

    1. Here BQRQ is himself quoting how Wheeler was a coal lobbyist. This is the very definition of regulatory capture, yet BQRQ cheers it on.

      BQRQ and the like embrace corruption and unethical behavior as long as it is beneficial to their side. Disgusting.

      1. Dear BBQ,
        For your information and edification, false allegations and public slander do not establish truth. Incontrovertible proof is far more important and necessary to establish the truth. There is no factual evidence and no proof of corruption. The allegation of “unethical behavior” is merely political rhetoric and nothing more.

        1. It is incontrovertible that Wheeler used to be coal lobbyist. This is the fox guarding the hen house, by definition. What convoluted justification will you offer for this? Have you no integrity? I guess Trump was right:

          “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

          Shame on you.

          1. Dear BBQ Planet,
            Billions of people throughout the world depend on coal for their energy and electricity needs, coal is a human necessity. Therefore, the occupation of ‘coal lobbyist’ is entirely legal and necessary, and it is very honorable profession when conducted with integrity.

            There is no evidence that Secretary Wheeler acted illegally and he seems to have plenty of integrity. We are humbled by the brilliance of our President and forever grateful.

  4. People are quite right to be outraged byt Trump’s anti-environmental, pro polluter policy, but the Trump government’s pro polluter policy merely continues what has been firmly in place for decades, not only at EPA but also state and local environmental agencies. If Trump were to step down, the same anti environmental drift would obtain.
    Trump is not the root cause of this “drift”; the root cause is the current environmental laws which grant the President too much discretion; thus the presidents Agency, EPA, has effectively been free to frustrate, delay, and/or bias the implementation and enforcement of the environmental statutes, as the polluters or their lobbyists may require.
    Note that related to this, the federal Bankruptcy law, Chapter 11, is also biased toward industry polluters and against the environment, allowing polluters to avoid clean up of their polluted properties, and in most cases, fines or penalties as well Congress has the power to limit Agency discretion by revising the environmental laws, but Congress wont do that as long as it is captured [controlled] by industry polluters. See Citizens United. I see no hope of Congress limiting agency discretion until corporate lobbying is prohibited.

  5. BQRQ,

    Do you seriously not understand the concept of regulatory capture? I know you are allergic to reading articles, but will you simply google “regulatory capture” and read up a little on it if this is a foreign concept to you?

    1. Dear BBQ Planet,
      Over the course of my 40 year career as a Chemical Engineer I have worked with pollution control technologies in chemical plants, waste water treatment, power plants, etc. I am very knowledgeable and have much working experience with regulatory compliance requirements that stem from the CAA, CWA, RCRA, ESA and other federal environmental laws.

      Over the course of my lifetime, I have witness tremendous improvements throughout our great Nation in overall water quality, air quality, habitat protection, hazardous waste disposal, wetlands protection, energy efficiency and other environmental protection and restoration programs. America is the world leader in environmental protection, regulations and technology.

      I have studied and applied many facets of environmental law and deeply understand pressing environmental issues. That is why my opinion thrives on Legal Planet. Please remember that my comments are offered in the spirit of helping others understand and cope with complex environmental issues.
      Cheers, it’s great to be alive !!!

      1. Ah, so you are in the industry. No wonder it is impossible for you to look at things objectively. It also explains your slavish loyalty to Trump.

        I’ll ask you again. Let’s see if you can answer directly: do you know what the term “regulatory capture” means?

        1. “…..Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating…..”

          Regulatory capture is akin to the California Environmental Bar

          1. So regulatory capture, in this case, is when someone who spends their life lobbying the government on behalf of an industry is now in charge of regulating that industry, as is the case with Wheeler. Do you understand now?

            Please restore my faith in conservatives by showing me that you can see the problem with this.

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

READ more