Environmental Justice in the USA
EPA: Pruitt's resignation and replacement
By Marie Courtais, 2018-07-10

From 5th of July 2018, the international media agenda is shaken up by Scott Pruitt's spontaneous decision to resign to his function. Being administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since February, 2017 Scott Pruitt's nomination was already highly controversial, as described in previous articles from the Environmental Justice Institute. Not later than a few weeks after he took his functions, he was feared as a redoubtable contribution in the Trump Administration to reverse President Obama's initiatives to combat climate change, to the detriment of marginalized communities' and human health (Article «Is There a Future for Environmental & Climate Justice in the Era of Trump and USEPA Administrator Scott Pruitt?»). About ten months later, an analysis of the application of the EPA Agenda by Scott Pruitt was run in order to give an idea of how his direction is changing compares to the one under Obama's presidency (article «EPA transformation to damage institutional Environmental Justice Agenda»).

Beyond the devastating effects in terms of ecological and social politics his presence in the EPA could do (as the denier Trump's right-hand man), his legitimacy was put in danger for various affairs for embezzlement. Indeed, scandals were popping up and fourteen (14) investigations to be precise have been open since he entered at the EPA. As a consequence, worldwide environmental activists and media were discrediting him, so do hundred and seventy (170) members of the Congress saying that he should go.

On Thursday 5 July, 2018, Trump wrote a tweet to announce that he accepted Scott Pruitt's resignation. Us as Environmental Justice research community should stand on-guards and not get enthusiastic too fast. He adds: «The Senate confirmed Deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler, will on Monday assume duties as the acting Administrator of the EPA. I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!».

Andrew Wheeler, a lawyer by background, was the second man of the USEPA since 20 April 2018. As former lobbyist for the coal industry and second hand of climate-change-denier senator Inhofe, the environmentalist community doesn't find the news so funny. Many media already ring the alarm: we should be mixed between enthusiasm for Pruitt's departure and fear for its replacement. Jeremy Symons, vice president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund assesses: «Wheeler is much smarter and will try to keep his efforts under the radar in implementing Trump's destructive agenda (...). That should scare anyone who breathes. » (article source).

Hence, even if its position stays temporary, Andrew Wheeler should continue his predecessor's policy of destroying Barack Obama's environmental record and easing environmental regulations, with a more incisive and procreative energy. From the Environmental Justice Research point of view we could wonder:

1. to what extend will this change transform US social and environmental landscape?

2. Should we see in this event the opening of a new land of protest for Environmental Justice activists?

Image: © Edition CNN