Happy Friday, we're cutting our Generate vacation short to get you up to speed quickly on the latest with EPA and its changing bosses. Let's jump in.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The Environmental Protection Agency is likely to see smoother processes, less ethical controversy, but a small number of potential policy shifts with Administrator Scott Pruitt gone. Don’t expect the overall direction of the agency to change.
Why it matters: For months Pruitt’s various scandals have dominated headlines and distracted attention from the agency’s regulatory rollbacks. With him gone, an agency scarred by a tumultuous run will be on the same policy track.
What’s next: Andrew Wheeler, EPA’s current deputy administrator, will be the acting administrator. He'll remain there until or unless Trump appoints a replacement and successfully gets the nominee through what would be a grueling Senate confirmation process.
Wheeler is a long-time Washington lobbyist and government official. He has represented coal producer Murray Energy, whose CEO Bob Murray has close to Trump, since 2009, according to federal lobbying disclosures.
“On policies, I don’t think Andy will be any different than Pruitt, truly. They see things the same way. Andy is going to be quieter, and probably less political in advancing the same agenda.”— Jeff Holmstead, former top EPA official in the George W. Bush administration
In the Axios stream, I run down how things are likely to change — and not change — under Wheeler in process, climate change and other regulations.
Many wondered why Scott Pruitt lasted as long as he did given the breadth of scandals.
Be smart: Trump liked Pruitt personally, and was a fan of his role repealing regulations. It took more time and more scandals for Pruitt to resign compared to other Cabinet officials because he had further to fall out of Trump's grace.
What they said: Despite being embroiled in several ethics scandals for most of this year, Trump stood by him publicly. Speaking on Air Force One Thursday, he said there was no "final straw" with Pruitt and that he resigned on his own accord.
A senior administration official tells Axios' Jonathan Swan that Pruitt "ultimately lost the war of attrition":
Don't hold your breath for an official nominee and confirmation process in the Senate. President Trump is very unlikely to nominate an official replacement for Pruitt until at least after he gets through his Supreme Court nominee, and probably not until after the midterm elections.
If/when that occurs, two clear candidates as of now:
Bottom line: The more moderate wing of the Republican party will prefer Wheeler, but conservatives, including former Trump transition adviser Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, have backed van der Vaart. Environmentalists and Democrats, meanwhile, will oppose either equally.
Thought bubble from Axios' Ben Geman: Pruitt's ouster could make life harder, not easier, for environmentalists and other opponents of EPA's agenda under Trump.
Republicans and Democrats alike cheered Pruitt's resignation Thursday.
Go deeper with more reaction.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Rebecca Zisser / Axios
Scott Pruitt was the most aggressive leader of the Environmental Protection Agency in its almost 50-year history — and the most controversial in a generation.
The big picture: But Pruitt didn't come out of nowhere. His ascendance to the agency reflects changing politics of the past few decades. Putting aside Pruitt's ethical and spending controversies, his environmental views are actually in line with most of the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980.
Go deeper: How EPA got its most powerful boss