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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."

Absent:

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.

Go deeper

Inaugural address: Biden vows to be "a president for all Americans"

Moments after taking the oath of office, President Biden sought to soothe a nation riven by political divisions and a global pandemic, while warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country and defeat a "virus that silently stalks the the country."

Why it matters: From the same steps that a pro-Trump mob launched an assault on Congress two weeks earlier, the new president paid deference to the endurance of American political institutions.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden and Vice President Harris review readiness of military troops, a long-standing tradition to signify the peaceful transfer of power.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president of the United States. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated as president and vice president respectively in a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Top Democrats and Republicans gathered for the peaceful transfer of power only two weeks after an unprecedented siege on the building by Trump supporters to disrupt certification of Biden's victory. Trump did not attend Wednesday's ceremony.