(President Trump and EPA Chief Scott Pruitt discussing the Paris accord in the WH Rose Garden.) Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Elizabeth "Betsy" Southerland, a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency, issued a memo Tuesday explaining her resignation from the agency, where she had worked for more than 30 years, per E&E News.

In the exit memo, released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Southerland said the EPA had been "the guiding light to make the 'right thing' happen for the greater good, including public health and safety" throughout her career. That was until President Trump and Scott Pruitt took over, whose actions Southerland says have led to "the temporary triumph of myth over truth."

Why it matters: Southerland stated that "there is no question" the administration is damaging the EPA's mission, and the long-term effects could force "our children and grandchildren" to live with increased safety risks and a degraded environment.

Key excerpts from her memo:

  • "The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man's activities."
  • Trump's executive order requiring agencies to repeal two regulations for every new one is "a real Sophie's choice for public health agencies like EPA."
  • "Faced with such painful choices, the best possible outcome for the American people would be regulatory paralysis where no new rules are released so that existing protections remain in place."
  • "It may take a few years and even an environmental disaster, but I am confident that Congress and the courts will eventually restore all the environmental protections repealed by this administration because the majority of the American people recognize that this protection of public health and safety is right and it is just."

Go deeper: 5 ex-EPA chiefs on what's surprised them most about Scott Pruitt.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus — COVID-19 looms over White House Halloween celebrations
  2. Health: Fauci says maybe we should mandate masks if people don't wear them — America was sick well before it ever got COVID-19
  3. World: Polish President Andrzej Duda tests positive for COVID-19.

Pence chief of staff Marc Short tests positive for coronavirus

Marc Short with Katie Miller, Vice President Pence's communications director, in March. Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times via Reuters

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force.

5 hours ago - World

Opposition leader Leopoldo López flees Venezuela

Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo López outside the Spanish embassy in Caracas, in 2019. Photo: Juan Barreto/AFP via Getty Images

Leopoldo López, a former political prisoner and prominent Venezuelan opposition leader, has left the country, his Popular Will party confirmed in a statement Saturday.

Why it matters: He's been an influential force in the push to oust President Nicolás Maduro's regime and a mentor to opposition leader Juan Guaidó. He'd been in the Spanish ambassador's Caracas residence since escaping house arrest in April 2019 following a failed military uprising.