Finally, Scott Pruitt has been ousted from the Environmental Protection Agency. His many enemies in the Green Blob – Hollywood, the rest of the Democrat party, the left-wing media, the European Union, the United Nations – have barely stopped crowing since. But they have won, at best, a Pyrrhic victory. Pruitt’s replacement as EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, is going to be worse for their interests. Much worse.
Which is to say that, even more than Pruitt did, Wheeler totally gets his president’s environmental and energy agenda. Pruitt sometimes came across as a bit wobbly, for example in his curious reluctance to repeal the EPA’s endangerment finding (an Obama-era hangover ruling that greenhouse gases are a danger to public health, thus obliging the federal government to regulate against them). Wheeler, a lawyer (who successfully led the campaign to nix Cap and Trade) and a former lobbyist who has worked for the coal industry, is likely to have fewer such qualms in challenging the Green Blob at every turn.
But let’s give Scott Pruitt his due. He got kicked out of his job (though he claims he resigned) not for being useless but for being too effective. Of all Trump’s administrators, he was one of the most able, effective and supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. This included pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord – which Trump had correctly perceived as unfairly prejudicial to America’s economic interests: Pruitt helped support Trump, against pressure from inner circle waverers such as his daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. So naturally Trump’s many enemies made it their mission to destroy his able lieutenant – and campaigned long and hard for Pruitt’s defenestration.
Their ostensible reason was that Pruitt was corrupt and greedy. Much was made of Pruitt renting a DC apartment, possibly at below market rate, from a man with energy industry interests; of his lavish expenditure on travel and security. The last at least was probably justified: Pruitt and his family did indeed get a lot of threats. In truth, Pruitt’s record was a good deal less venal, profligate and slippery than either of his Obama era predecessors Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson. But the difference was, they were Obama Democrats – and therefore held up to considerably less scrutiny by America’s progressive media and political activists.
President Trump liked the fact that, policy wise, Pruitt was a winner. What he didn’t like was all the mud attaching to Pruitt and sullying the presidency by association. Eventually enough of that mud stuck for him to decide to give Pruitt the boot.
Make no mistake though, Pruitt’s departure will make little if any difference to the MAGA agenda – at least not where energy and the environment are concerned. Unlike his Republican predecessors – and indeed unlike the GOP swamp – Trump has instinctively grasped that green issues are often a Trojan horse for leftist policies. Obama boasted about his plan to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket” as part of his mission to save the planet from global warming. Trump’s base don’t believe that threat exists – and even they did, what they want more is cheap energy, jobs and a higher standard of living.
If you read Pruitt’s obituaries in publications like the Guardian, you’ll see him described as the Worst EPA Administrator Ever. No he wasn’t. He was the best so far – not exactly that there was much competition. Right from the very start – Richard Nixon created it as a sop to appease the increasingly vocal Seventies environmental movement – the EPA seemed more interested in leftist green ideology than it did in actual science. Its first administrator, William Ruckelshaus banned DDT in the US – in defiance of a seven-month EPA hearing, involving 9,000 pages of testimony, which had included the opposite: that DDT is not harmful to man, or fish, or birds…
For most of its 48 year existence, in fact, regardless of which party has occupied the White House and the Senate, the EPA has acted as a hard-left entryist group at the very heart of the DC political establishment – continually undermining US freedoms and economic interests on the basis of often very dubious evidence provided by parti-pris scientists and zealous activists. No wonder the left was so determined to get rid of Pruitt. No wonder, they are going to find his replacement so very disappointing too…