EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns Amid Scandals

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned after months of ethics controversies.

In his resignation letter, Pruitt cited “unrelenting attacks on me personally” as one of the reasons for his departure. While Pruitt had been hailed by conservatives for his zealous deregulation, he could not overcome a spate of questions about his alleged spending abuses, first-class travel, and cozy relationships with lobbyists.   At least six investigations into Scott Pruitt’s conduct will proceed against the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, despite his July 5 resignation.

The EPA inspector general’s office announced in early July that five of its inquiries will continue. They are examining Mr. Pruitt’s frequent travel to Oklahoma and first-class flights; the management of and payment for his 24-hour security detail; a series of hiring and pay-raise decisions affecting political appointees; and the preservation of Mr. Pruitt’s emails and text messages.  An agency spokeswoman also said investigators would compile a “factual record” of a meeting that Mr. Pruitt held with the National Mining Association in April 2017.

In addition, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is moving forward with a broad investigation into Mr. Pruitt’s spending, management and use of federal resources.

Posted by Helen Gillespie

US Chemical Safety Board Controversies Continue

The CSB studies chemical safety accidents, such as the 2013 explosion at the West, Texas fertilizer plant, and develop new safety measures.

The controversies at the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB), which investigates US chemical accidents, continue. On June 22, Vanessa Sutherland abruptly resigned her job as the CSB’s chairperson and officially fired managing director Daniel Horowitz from his post.

Horowitz had been on paid administrative leave since June 2015 over accusations of mismanagement and leadership deficiencies. According to public sources, Sutherland’s sudden action shocked Horowitz. He has said the three-year delay in his termination speaks to the ‘feebleness’ of the charges against him and that he and his lawyers had tried to settle the matter multiple times, but their proposals were rebuffed. He has appealed his removal to the federal civil service court, and still wants to be reinstated as the CSB’s managing director.

The agency’s previous chairman, Rafael Moure-Eraso, was forced to resign over mismanagement allegation in March 2015, amid congressional and White House pressure. Moure-Eraso who was never prosecuted, provoked a backlash simply by pushing for significant safety changes in chemical industry practices. In addition to these personnel issues, President Trump has twice proposed to defund the agency.

Currently Kristen Kulinowski, who has served on the CSB since August 2015, is filling in as the agency’s ‘interim executive authority’.

Posted by Helen Gillespie