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(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disaster, but I am confident that Congress and the courts will eventually restore all the environmental protections repealed by this administration because the majority of the American people recognize that this protection of public health and safety is right and it is just."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

2 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

Updated 35 mins 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: Representatives from all branches of the military escort the 46th president to the White House.