Scott Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general who relentlessly pursued President Donald Trump's promises of deregulation at the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned Thursday after a cascade of controversies over his lavish spending, ethical lapses and controversial management decisions finally eroded the president's confidence in one of his most ardent Cabinet members. As a former lobbyist for Murray Energy, Wheeler had knowledge of the three-page directive which Bob Murray gave to the EPA after donating $300,000 to Mr. Trump's inauguration fund, with a list of demands from the coal industry for the new administrator to enact.
"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda", the president tweeted.
"We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!" he tweeted.
That earlier tweet came in response to another Washington Post report that detailed Pruitt's attempt to find a job for his wife through donors. Pruitt accepted seats from a billionaire coal executive for himself and his son at a university basketball game.
Pruitt has been buffeted by numerous revelations about extravagant spending, including $1,560 for a dozen fountain pens, $3,000 on "tactical pants" and "tactical polos", $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office and $120,000 on a trip to Italy.
The one thing of which we can be sure is that Trump was not troubled by the ongoing scandal of Pruitt's ideological devotion to the interests of the fossil-fuel industry at the expense of EPA's core mission.
Pruitt was known for questioning the human role in global climate change.
In the latest incident, a mom holding her young child asked EPA Chief Scott Pruitt to resign. Trump has praised Pruitt for slashing regulations on the energy and manufacturing industries, including his move to repeal Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature program to cut carbon emissions from power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan.
"He'll just be quietly working to implement the regulatory reforms that Pruitt started", said Holmstead.
"We have no illusion both about how far Scott Pruitt is from the kind of administrator that we need and also how risky Andrew Wheeler would be", Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told TIME before Pruitt's resignation.
Despite all this, environmental groups celebrated Pruitt's departure, which they have been pushing for with a series of campaigns including through television ads on Fox & Friends, widely describing it as an opportunity for a reset at the EPA. Many questioned the ethics of him renting an apartment in Washington, D.C., from the wife of an energy lobbyist and traveling frequently to his home state of Oklahoma on the taxpayers' dime. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was sacked previous year after it was disclosed he took costly charter flights instead of commercial planes.