Embattled EPA Head Scott Pruitt Resigns; Ag Groups React

Citing “unrelenting attacks”, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt resigned from his position Thursday afternoon.

In his resignation letter addressed to President Donald Trump, Pruitt expressed thanks for the opportunity to serve the American people and wrote, “My desire in service to you has always been to bless you as you make important decisions for the American people.”

President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday afternoon that he’s “accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” noting that Pruitt has done a “good job within the Agency.”

Pruitt has faced numerous questions and controversies on issues spanning from  expenditures to the granting of RFS waivers.

The departure of Pruitt follows months of scrutiny that gathered momentum following reports that Pruitt had rented a Capitol Hill condominium from an energy lobbyist on very favorable rental terms. There were already concerns about the high cost of Pruitt’s travel and security detail, as well as the allegations of Pruitt fostering a working environment filled with workplace retaliation and wasteful spending. The steady flow of news stories prompted multiple government agencies to inquiries into Pruitt and the agency, which still faces over a dozen probes into spending, ethics, and policy decisions.

Pruitt’s resignation is effective Friday, July 6. Andrew Wheeler will take on the role of acting administrator on Monday.

Ag Groups Respond

North Dakota farmer Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), issued the following statement on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation.

“It’s no secret corn farmers have been frustrated with Scott Pruitt’s ongoing actions over the past year that have seriously undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

“Even with this leadership change at the EPA, our priorities do not change. We will continue to push the EPA to stop granting unjustified RFS waivers. We expect the EPA to account for the more than 1.6 billion gallons the agency waived from 2016 and 2017 RFS obligations, and we will continue ask EPA to follow through on the president’s commitment to remove outdated regulations to allow higher blends of ethanol like E15 to be sold year-round. We are hopeful Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler will work with America’s corn farmers to give consumers more options at the pump to save them money and reduce emissions and provide farmers with certainty in the marketplace that comes with RFS integrity.”

Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy also issued a comment, stating:

“Administrator Pruitt’s tenure as administrator of the EPA put a heavy strain on this administration’s relationship with supporters, farmers, and biofuel producers across the heartland. We urge the EPA under the new leadership of acting Administrator Wheeler to reinforce those bonds and work as a partner to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House in efforts to revitalize rural communities and unleash American biofuels. He can start today by reversing the demand destruction caused by EPA waivers, acting on the president’s pledge to unlock E15, and upholding a strong Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).”

Brooke Coleman, Executive Director of Advanced Biofuels Business Council responded:

“Scott Pruitt’s decisions on biofuels drove a wedge between President Trump and his backers in the Midwest. We’re very hopeful this will open a new chapter in the relationship between the EPA and rural communities. Andrew Wheeler could very easily come out of the gate strong by acting on the president’s pledge to lift regulations on E15 and halting abuse of refinery waivers. It would earn him a deep and loyal bench of supporters across rural America.”