The Watertown Daily Times on former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, July 10

Befitting his self-centered approach to public service, Scott Pruitt ignored a swirl of controversy he has wallowed in since becoming administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and instead focused on the criticism against him while announcing his resignation. …

Mr. Pruitt was, to say the least, a rather unlikely candidate to assume this leadership post at the EPA. While serving as attorney general of Oklahoma, he sued the agency 14 times over its enforcement of air and water regulations.

In doing so, Mr. Pruitt sided with companies known as major polluters, firms that would benefit from the EPA being stymied in carrying out its duties. And they returned the favor by contributing to the Republican Attorney General Association, a group he chaired at one time.

After grabbing the EPA’s helm, Mr. Pruitt began rolling back numerous regulations. But he also raised eyebrows with questionable decisions.

The only surprising development in Mr. Pruitt’s resignation is that it took this long to occur. Many accusations of unethical behavior have been lodged since he took over the position last year.

“Pruitt’s reputation as a dogged deregulator and outspoken booster of the president allowed him to weather a litany of ethics scandals in recent months, including questions about taxpayer-funded first-class travel, a discounted condo rental from a Washington lobbyist and the installation of a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in his office,” according to a Washington Post story, published Thursday by the Watertown Daily Times. “But revelations about his behavior continued to mount, including reports that he repeatedly enlisted subordinates to help him search for housing, book personal travel and even help search for a six-figure job for his wife. That quest included setting up a call with Chick-fil-A executives, in which he discussed her becoming a franchisee, as well as outreach to a conservative judicial group that eventually hired Marlyn Pruitt.”

We hope, at least, that the scandals at the EPA will cease. But it will take additional time for the agency to return to prioritizing the environment rather than corporate interests.

Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler will succeed Mr. Pruitt on an interim basis. The U.S. Senate will need to confirm a permanent EPA administrator, but that won’t be anytime soon. Mr. Wheeler has a history of lobbying for the interests of energy and coal companies, and he’s likely to continue steering the EPA on the course that it’s been on for more than a year.

So the EPA’s focus on living up to its name won’t be restored overnight. This is unfortunate as we need this part of our government to operate as it’s supposed to. We should address the issue of federal bureaucrats thwarting businesses from boosting the economy, but throwing a wrench into the process is not the answer.

Hopefully, Mr. Wheeler will avoid the ethical dilemmas his predecessor courted. The administrator’s position exists to operate the EPA for the benefit of Americans, not one individual. Mr. Pruitt’s downfall was not caused by fake news, as his supporters may claim, but rather the actions of a fake public servant.

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