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'Victory for People and the Planet' as EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns

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'Victory for People and the Planet' as EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns
Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Julia Conley

The White House announced Thursday that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned, following months of mounting scandals regarding his misuse of taxpayer funds for his lavish travel expenses, the extreme secrecy with which he ran the agency, his treatment of his staff, and other ethics controversies.


While Pruitt's management style and ethics-free behavior frequently threatened to distract from his activities as the nation's top official ostensibly in charge of safeguarding the environment, climate action groups and other green campaigners have repeatedly pointed to his aggressive efforts to undermine the EPA's stated mission while spearheading the Trump administration's overall effort to execute a massive giveaway to the fossil fuel industry and other corporate interests.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) called Pruitt's departure a "victory for people and the planet."

"Scott Pruitt's corruption and coziness with industry lobbyists finally caught up with him," said FOE president Erich Pica. "We're happy that Pruitt can no longer deceive Americans or destroy our environment. This victory belongs to the hundreds of thousands of activists who fought to protect the Environmental Protection Agency from a corrupt crony set on destroying it from the inside...We must work to remove every member of this administration who has abused their power and put polluter profits over people and the planet."

"Ethics matter," concluded Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). "So does a commitment to the EPA's central mission. Pruitt failed miserably on both counts."

This post may be updated.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Natural Resources Defense Council.

A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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