In April, environmental activist organizations launched a media campaign to oust EPA chief Scott Pruitt – at the time, an EPA spokesman said the campaign “may not be particularly successful,” but invited the group to go ahead and spend its money on ads. Three months later, as Pruitt resigns his post with claims that “unrelenting attacks” on himself and his family drove him to depart, organizations that joined the Boot Pruitt campaign have released statements celebrating the news, while warning of future fights to come with the new appointee.
Attacks on Pruitt’s practices as EPA head certainly abounded. Most recently, he is said to have reached out to the oil and gas industry for help in filling vacant positions in the agency, according to emails obtained by the Sierra Club and shared with Buzzfeed News (via EcoWatch).
These organizations involved in the Boot Pruitt campaign included the Hip Hop Caucus, EarthJustice, Green for All, Green Latinos, CAP Action, Nextgen America, Environmental Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth, Center for Environmental Health, and EWG. On the Boot Pruitt website, the campaign claims “victory.”
A sampling of some of these statements:
- “Under Pruitt, the EPA has turned its back on its most basic duty to protect our environment for the public good…. His departure should be welcome news to anybody who values clean air and water. But Pruitt’s resignation does not close the chapter on the Trump administration’s continuous assault on commonsense environmental safeguards. Until the administration’s destructive policies at the EPA are stopped and reversed, we will continue fighting them in the courts – regardless of who’s leading the agency.” —Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen
- “Ethics matter. So does a commitment to EPA’s central mission. Scott Pruitt failed miserably on both counts. If his successor also puts the interests of polluters ahead of protecting public health and the environment, he or she will encounter the same wall of resistance – and meet the same fate.” —Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council
- “In addition to ignoring science and real time realities by failing to act on climate change, he did everything he could to take away basic clean water and air protections for our communities. Today is a day to applaud all who kept up the pressure for him to resign, especially the ‘Boot Pruitt’ campaign that gave people a voice in the fight. President Trump should take notice that we will continue to push back on anyone as EPA Administrator that represents polluters over people.” —Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, senior VP for Climate, Environmental Justice, & Community Revitalization at Hip Hop Caucus, and former EPA senior associate administrator
- “We now face the stark reality of a coal lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, running the agency that is supposed to protect our air, water, and climate…. Changing name plates is not enough – we need new, honest leadership that puts the health of American families first.” —EDF president Fred Krupp
- “Scott Pruitt was the worst possible man to run EPA…. With his departure, we have a real climate change at EPA.” —Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former director of Civil Enforcement at EPA
Statements on what comes next:
- “No matter who leads the EPA, my office will continue to hold the agency accountable. As we have proven again and again, when the EPA threatens New Yorkers’ health and environment, we will take the agency to court – and we will win.” —New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood
- “Mr. Wheeler, as a longtime coal industry lobbyist, has a background just as biased toward industry as Scott Pruitt – so we and other environmental advocates are going to have to watch Wheeler just as closely as we did his former boss. We need to keep up our intense vigilance – because the Trump administration’s anti-environmental, anti-public health, deregulatory agenda continues.” —Tom Pelton, director of communications for the Environmental Integrity Project
In his own words:
In Pruitt’s resignation letter, he wrote to Trump that the president’s confidence in him “blessed me personally and enabled me to advance your agenda beyond what anyone anticipated at the beginning of your administration.” He added that the “unprecedented attacks” have “taken a sizable toll” on his family, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The Senate voted to confirm Andrew Wheeler in April. He is a former Senate staffer and EPA employee who spent the past decade representing coal, mining, and other energy companies, according to the Washington Post.