As Scott Pruitt Resigns, Look Back on How He Came to Lead the EPA

July 5, 2018
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by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, has resigned, President Donald Trump said in a tweet on July 5. Trump said he had accepted Pruitt’s resignation, that Pruitt had done “an outstanding job,” and that Andrew Wheeler, the agency’s current deputy administrator, will become acting administrator on Monday.

For months, the embattled Pruitt has faced a storm of mounting criticism over his use of taxpayer funds and a range of alleged ethics violations during his tenure. But Trump had expressed his support for Pruitt, seen as a champion of the fossil fuel industry, as recently as last month. At the time of his resignation, Pruitt was facing “at least 13” federal inquiries, The New York Times said.

In his resignation letter to the president, published by Fox News, Pruitt cited the public scrutiny in deciding to step down, saying, “The unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.”

Last October, in War on the EPA, FRONTLINE investigated how Pruitt went from fighting the agency to running it, and rolling back years of environmental policy.

“Scott Pruitt — he is the star on the Trump team, getting more done probably than any other appointee to date,” Bob Murray, CEO of the largest privately owned coal company in the U.S., told FRONTLINE in the film. “I gave Mr. Trump what I called an action plan very early. It’s about three-and-a-half pages and — of what he needed to do in his administration. He’s wiped out page one.”

In his letter to Trump, Pruitt said that major changes had been made at the agency: “It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring,” he wrote.

Watch the full film below:

 

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