Aug 1, 2017

5 ex-EPA chiefs on what’s surprised them most about Scott Pruitt

Andrew Harnik / AP

For my latest Harder Line column about EPA chief Scott Pruitt, I reached out to several former EPA chiefs and interviewed five. I asked them what surprises them most about Pruitt's leadership so far. Here is a snippet of what they said:

Gina McCarthy, EPA chief under Obama

"I did not think that there would be such a tremendous lack of transparency. If I didn't have my schedule posted every day, someone would have called."

Christie Todd Whitman, EPA chief under George W. Bush

"The red team blue team [climate change debate] is just mind-boggling to me."

Carol Browner, EPA chief under Clinton:

"The comments on 'back to basics' [Pruitt's slogan]...We can't go back."

Bill Reilly, EPA chief under George H.W. Bush:

"It's unprecedented that the EPA administrator was the administration's leader in wanting to disavow the Paris climate deal. That's certainly had to have astonished the EPA staff."

Bill Ruckelshaus, first EPA chief under Nixon, served again under Reagan

"His determination to dismantle the regulatory system that has been put in place for over 40 years. That didn't happen by accident. Mountain of court cases, both pro and con in that system."


Lisa Jackson, Obama's first EPA chief, was traveling and not available. Stephen Johnson and Mike Leavitt, two of Bush's EPA chiefs, declined to be interviewed.

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