Scott Pruitt is finally out

Scott Pruitt is finally out. This was a pitch well telegraphed. The resignation of Mr. Pruitt – whose tenure at EPA has been marked by blatant rejections of sound science, proposals to undermine our country’s bedrock environmental protections and consistent efforts to personally profit off of public service – was long overdue.                                                         

Today, I share the feeling of relief with so many Delawareans who were concerned about the health of their children and the environment with Mr. Pruitt at the helm of such an important agency.

Since day one of his nomination, I made clear that Mr. Pruitt was the wrong person for the job. For the past seventeen months, we have had an individual leading the Environmental Protection Agency who has been openly hostile to the agency’s mission to protect the health of the public and our environment. Time and time again, Mr. Pruitt has pushed policies that jeopardized public health in order to score political points. He has advocated for industry instead of the American people. He has actively worked to discredit objective science, ignore the most serious environmental threats to our communities and consistently put polluters’ profits and partisan views over public health.

I worked with my Democratic colleagues on the Environment and Public Works Committee to shed some light on some of Mr. Pruitt’s most egregious ethical lapses. We sent nearly 70 oversight letters, and initiated multiple investigations into his conduct. 

It was as clear as day that Mr. Pruitt and I would have serious disagreements when it came to policy. But Mr. Pruitt’s brazen abuse of his position for his own personal gain has been absolutely astounding, rivaled only by the silence of far too many in Congress and in the White House who allowed Mr. Pruitt’s unethical, and, at times, possibly illegal behavior to go unchecked. History will not look kindly on this era: neither on Mr. Pruitt’s entirely irresponsible tenure nor on Congress’ abdication of its constitutional responsibilities all in order to protect political allies.

It is my hope, that with Mr. Pruitt’s resignation, we can finally return to more responsible leadership at the EPA and that the agency can get back to doing its important work of protecting the American people, rather than the highest bidder.

That’s exactly why I wasted no time and wrote to Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler today to urge him to restore the American people’s trust in the agency’s mission, and to carefully consider the lessons of the past – particularly in the case of former EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus who was met with similar skepticism when first nominated by President Reagan to take over for scandal-ridden Anne Gorsuch. Like Mr. Ruckelshaus, Mr. Wheeler has been granted an enormous challenge and responsibility, but an even greater opportunity. 

Mr. Wheeler should seize this opportunity — not squander it like Mr. Pruitt so recklessly did.  But, no matter who is in charge, I will keep working to hold President Trump’s EPA accountable to the American people.