Scandal-hit United States environment chief could face axe

Ethical questions have been raised about Scott Pruitt's management decisions as administrator of the EPA

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt resigns amid ethics controversies.

The agency did away with the "sue-and-settle" approach that Pruitt said improperly allowed the Obama administration to circumvent laws by rewriting regulations behind closed doors with friendly environmental groups who filed lawsuits.

Trump announced that Pruitt's deputy, former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, would take over Monday as acting head of the agency that the president has tasked with dismantling Barack Obama's green legacy.

"I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda", the president tweeted. He denied wrongdoing in the face of multiple congressional and oversight inquiries.

The EPA under Pruitt has come under intense media scrutiny for accusations of ethics violations, including private jet travel, contacts with energy executives, and trying to find his wife a job.

Mr. Pruitt had been seen Wednesday at the White House celebrating Independence Day at an annual picnic for military families at the president's invitation. The former Oklahoma attorney general, who sued the agency more than a dozen times before running it, had been expected to return to electoral politics and run for governor, senator or possibly president.

Pruitt's EPA backed a plan to stop requiring auto manufacturers to make their cars more fuel efficient.

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Pruitt was known for questioning the human role in global climate change.

Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, of NY, said it's "time for new leadership at the EPA" after the resignation. Many of the EPA regulations Pruitt scraped or delayed had not yet taken effect, and the tens of thousands of lost coal mining jobs the president pledged to bring back never materialized. Sources tell ABC News Trump, who'd previously defended Pruitt's job performance, had finally reached his boiling point within the last few weeks.

When we last surveyed the mess of scandals trailing the man in charge of upholding this country's environmental standards, we talked about the millions of taxpayer dollars he spends on a security detail, his sweetheart condo deal, and his $40,000 phone booth. He rented an apartment linked to oil industry lobbyists in a pricey neighbourhood of the capital for a mere US$50 a night, a sum he only paid on nights he actually slept there.

Republicans earlier this year countered that Wheeler, 53, was well-qualified to lead the agency, having worked at the EPA early in his career and serving as Republican staff chief of the Senate Environment Committee before becoming a lobbyist nine years ago.

White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert resigned in April, a month after Rex Tillerson was sacked as secretary of state.

Pruitt's EPA moved to rescind the Clean Water Rule, which clarified the Clean Water Act to prohibit industries from dumping pollutants into streams and wetlands.

"I knew that Mr. Pruitt and I would seriously disagree when it came to policy".

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