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Photo: Jason Andrew/Getty Images

Tuesday brought both a new EPA science policy that conservatives cheered and more ominous headlines for the embattled agency boss Scott Pruitt, who faces a suite of ethics controversies.

Between the lines: The combination highlights why Pruitt's fate is hard to predict. He's forging ahead with policies that conservatives and some business interests have long sought, yet there are fresh signs of eroding GOP support.

What's happening: Pruitt proposed rules that limit the types of scientific studies used to inform regulations by requiring that the data is publicly available for "validation and analysis."

  • EPA called it a pro-transparency move that would bolster the integrity of the rulemakings. It drew cheers from key Republicans and allied interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
  • But environmentalists and health advocates attacked the plan, noting that robust studies of links between pollution and health often rely on confidential personal health information.

Yes, but: Tuesday also brought fresh signs of political peril for Pruitt thanks to the scandals around spending, his living arrangement last year and more.

  • The Washington Post reports that several Senate Republicans said Pruitt's actions deserve more Capitol Hill scrutiny.
  • Per Bloomberg, Sen. John Thune — the Senate's third-ranking Republican — said Pruitt has "serious questions to answer."
  • E&E News ($) reported Tuesday afternoon that some top White House aides predict Pruitt isn't long for the job.

Publicly the White House has been more circumspect, praising Pruitt's policy moves while noting that they're investigating the questions around him.

What's next: Pruitt testifies tomorrow before two House committees.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 2: Barbarians at the Oval

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 2: Trump stops buying what his professional staff are telling him, and increasingly turns to radical voices telling him what he wants to hear.

President Trump plunked down in an armchair in the White House residence, still dressed from his golf game — navy fleece, black pants, white MAGA cap. It was Saturday, Nov. 7. The networks had just called the election for Joe Biden.

Fringe right plots new attacks out of sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Domestic extremists are using obscure and private corners of the internet to plot new attacks ahead of Inauguration Day. Their plans are also hidden in plain sight, buried in podcasts and online video platforms.

Why it matters: Because law enforcement was caught flat-footed during last week's Capitol siege, researchers and intelligence agencies are paying more attention to online threats that could turn into real-world violence.

Kids’ screen time up 50% during pandemic

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

When the coronavirus lockdowns started in March, kidstech firm SuperAwesome found that screen time was up 50%. Nearly a year later, that percentage hasn't budged, according to new figures from the firm.

Why it matters: For most parents, pre-pandemic expectations around screen time are no longer realistic. The concern now has shifted from the number of hours in front of screens to the quality of screen time.