After weeks of turmoil and a tenure ridden with controversy, Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt has announced his resignation.
The Washington Post interviewed several employees outside the agency’s offices, several of whom expressed relief at Pruitt’s sudden departure.
“I am happy,” said a 15-year veteran on his way home. “He was never accepted. If you are going to be the environment chief, the environment has to be your passion.”
Pruitt, who served as the attorney general for Oklahoma before accepting President Trump’s appointment, attracted fierce criticism as a candidate for an EPA posting. In his home state, Pruitt used his power as attorney general to sue the Environmental Protect Agency more than a dozen times. He opposed an ambitious anti-pollution campaign in the Chesapeake Bay and drafted policy proposals on behalf of energy corporations.
The same EPA veteran who said he was happy to see Pruitt gone suggested that “the green” will get the man, with “the green” meaning environmental activists and advocates.
“They tortured him until he submitted,” he said. “They found stuff on him until he submitted.”
As the Washington Post notes, the “stuff” Pruitt’s critics uncovered was extensive and damning.
Along with ordering federal employees to run personal errands, Pruitt spent tens of thousands of dollars on a sound-proof booth, accepted courtside sports tickets from ‘coal barons,’ and enlisted an EPA aide to try procuring a Chick-Fil-A franchise for his wife.
Responding to accusations that Pruitt needlessly chartered flights and purchased expensive airfare for himself, the former EPA chief claimed that flying coach endangered his life.
“It’s a good day for the agency,” said another employee. “He was destroying the agen—well, he wasn’t a friend of the environment, and I don’t think he was a friend of the agency.
“It’s a good day.”
Pruitt’s resignation letter, sent to Trump on Friday, expressed the strange belief that he and the commander-in-chief had been brought into their respective positions through an act of God.
“I believe you are serving as President today because of God’s providence,” wrote Pruitt. “I believe that same providence brought me into your service.”
The media’s animus for Pruitt purportedly brought President Trump to frustration, too. Stories began circulating of Pruitt’s attempts to have U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired, so that Pruitt could take his post.
Good riddance. Scott Pruitt didn't care about protecting our environment, didn't believe in science, and was about as ethical as Richard Nixon. Let's get someone in that post that will actually defend the environment. https://t.co/7HUaM3jooy
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) July 5, 2018
“It’s one thing after another with this guy,” an exasperated Trump allegedly said.
Reactions to Pruitt’s departure from Democrats were practically comical, with Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey tweeting, “About. Damn. Time.” And New York Rep. Sean Maloney wrote, “Good riddance,” comparing the recently-resigned EPA chief with Richard Nixon.
However, Pruitt’s ousting may not change much at the EPA. The Center for Public Integrity notes that senior officials within the agency—hired under Pruitt’s guidance—have histories and agendas at odds with any mission remotely related to environmental preservation.
The CPI says that, under Scott Pruitt’s guidance, the EPA did little but meet the expectations of industry groups, many of whom felt burdened by regulations and rules.