Celebrating Pruitt’s departure ignores the danger of his replacement

The endemic corruption permeating Trump’s administration is so ridiculously mind boggling that describing the so-called “swamp” as a rotting special interest cesspool is an understatement. Trump and the GOP’s plan to hand the government over to special interests was glaringly apparent immediately after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration based on the insertion of special interests throughout the federal government.

It is safe to say that there are no federal agencies or departments in Trump’s cesspool that are not infested with greedy special interests or industry lobbyists intent on dismantling the organization they were tapped to lead into ruination. That particular outrage is best represented by evangelical malcontents Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt. In Pruitt’s case, the sworn enemy of environmental regulations is now the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the celebratory mood on the Left is curious indeed.

Although there is an abundance of glee that Pruitt was allegedly pushed out over a dozen or so ethics investigations, it is clear that cheering Pruitt’s exit as some kind of victory is incredibly foolish. Obviously the people celebrating Pruitt’s “removal” are unaware that his temporary replacement is just as hazardous to the environment, and Americans’ health and welfare, as Pruitt. The new anti-environment crusader will be much worse simply because he is a seasoned Washington insider and fossil fuel  industry lobbyist who knows how to achieve Trump’s goals without drawing attention to himself or Trump’s corrupt administration.

It was reported shortly after news of Pruitt’s exit as EPA head that the only reason he was “forced out” was the optics of one of Trump’s operatives being perpetually investigated for ethics violations  – not his job performance and not because he was an unethical cretin like his boss in the Oval Office. In fact, Trump has praised Pruitt profusely for decimating environmental regulations at the behest of the fossil fuel and chemical industries which is the only reason he was appointed in the first place. Who better to eviscerate environmental regulations, and dismantle they EPA, than a special interest puppet whose self-professed claim to fame was suing the federal agency he wanted abolished to sate the greed of the fossil fuel industry.

Now that Pruitt is no longer doing the heavy lifting for the Koch brothers et al, no sane American should breathe a sigh of relief that the EPA will suddenly fulfill its mandate and revert to protecting the environment and Americans’ health and welfare; especially not with a coal industry lobbyist running the show.

Despite the bluster and claims that he was decimating, especially “Obama-era,” environmental protections, by all accounts Scott Pruitt was as inept as he is corrupt and evangelically extreme. The man serving as acting EPA chief, Andrew Wheeler, is anything but incompetent. Of course he lacks whatever sense of ethical obligation to help protect his fellow Americans from the dirty filthy fossil fuel industry. That being the case, it should be no surprise that Wheeler shares Pruitt’s “passion” for completely deregulating the fossil fuel industry; he has spent the great majority of his lobbying career on behalf of the energy industry and, in particular, the dirty filthy coal companies. His particular speciality was lobbying Republicans to expedite the industry’s demand that Republicans “weaken federal regulations” if not abolish them with prejudice. Like Trump and Pruitt, Wheeler thinks he is smarter than 97 percent of the Earth’s scientist and denies the existential damage of ignoring global climate change.

As noted by many pundits and environmental activists, Wheeler is the epitome of a Washington insider who works “behind the scenes” to help “kill off regulations” the fossil fuel industry and other industrial polluters complain are restricting their profits. And unlike Pruitt, Wheeler will not be announcing which regulations protecting Americans’ water and air he just abolished. In effect, Wheeler will “reshape America’s environmental policies to benefit his powerful friends in the energy industry” at the expense of Americans’ health and welfare. Don’t believe it?

Even before being appointed as “acting” EPA chief, while Wheeler worked for Murray Energy he heavily lobbied the Department of Energy to start using taxpayer dollars to provide federal  subsidies for coal producers. Fortunately, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rightly “struck down the proposal” despite intense pressure from Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

Wheeler was also part of the lobbying team that pushed Trump to open up Big Ears National Monument in Utah to a uranium mining company’s operation. Wheeler was a determined proponent of exempting industrial plants from adhering to pollution controls after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and he waged a ferocious battle to shield polluters from liability for the harm they caused by the release of toxic chemicals into the air and water.

Look, there is little doubt that Scott Pruitt, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, did not represent the scum of the Trump administration cesspool; both because Pruitt is unethical and because his intent was only ever serving the special interests in the fossil fuel, chemical and manufacturing industries. Now, there is a very competent, behind the scenes, kind of scum that will fight against protecting the environment with the same zeal as his lobbying effort on behalf of the country’s largest private coal company. The results will be the demise of the nation’s environmental and public health regulations that Trump and the Koch brothers want eliminated. It is true no-one in their right mind will miss Scott Pruitt, but they will likely miss being aware of exactly what damage the head of the Environmental Protection Agency plans to wreak on the environment and the American people.