Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Scott Pruitt is lodging, spending, flying and staffing his way into a hot political mess that could end his career — antics that are both ridiculous and irrelevant in the grand scheme of America's environmental policy.

Bottom line: People who think Pruitt's policies would end if he leaves need a reality check. Everyone working under Pruitt, and anyone that would replace Pruitt as chief of the EPA, would embody similar policies. The dismantling of the last administration’s environmental agenda would continue as long as Republicans control the White House.

The big picture: Pruitt's environmental views are actually in line with most conservative elected officials since Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980. What's changed is how empowered Pruitt is under President Trump, along with most GOP lawmakers’ dismissive view of climate change and the prior administration’s expansion of regulation. None of this changes when and if Pruitt resigns.

The politically appointed officials surrounding Pruitt all support similar policies as Pruitt, and any potential replacement would likely hold similar values.

  • Bill Wehrum, assistant administrator for air issues, is leading the rollback of former President Obama’s carbon rules for power plants.
  • Wehrum is also working on eventually proposing a much scaled-back version of those rules, given current law compels it.
  • Andrew Wheeler, Trump’s nominee to be EPA’s No. 2, could win Senate confirmation as soon as next week.
  • Wheeler has lobbied for coal producer Murray Energy, whose CEO Bob Murray is close to Trump, since 2009, according to federal lobbying disclosures.
  • Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer at the firm Bracewell, was in the running for the top EPA job. He supports Pruitt’s agenda, including both the regulatory rollback and other overhaul efforts within the agency.

What we‘re hearing:

  • If Pruitt resigned, “I think it would slow down the implementation, but I don’t think it would cause the course to change,” said Myron Ebell, a senior fellow at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute who worked on Trump’s transition team at EPA.
  • A Pruitt replacement could be more moderate on the rollback of some of Obama’s rules, according to a research note published Friday by independent research firm ClearView Energy Partners.

There is good reason why Pruitt’s antics have blown up into a bigger issue than his policies. Most people relate more to a juicy story about someone’s character and ethics than they do to the policy that ultimately makes the biggest difference.

“Whether any given policy proposal is advantageous or disadvantageous is a complicated problem. Indeed, it often leads to intense debate. But information suggesting corruption and exploitation of power is easy to understand and clearly signals low trustworthiness.”
— Christopher Johnston, political psychology professor, Duke University

One conservative industry official said Pruitt comes off as a “prima donna.” For Pruitt, these controversies could raise questions about his future political aspirations. For Trump, the storyline provides yet another Cabinet member behaving badly.

But Pruitt’s antics are a distraction from what really matters: The midterm elections later this year could shake things up. If Democrats gain control of one or both chambers of Congress, GOP efforts to roll back Obama’s regulations would be more difficult with increased congressional oversight.

Go deeper

39 mins ago - World

U.K. prosecutors charge third person in poisoning of former Russian spy

Emergency services members in biohazard encapsulated suits encasing the poisoning scene in a tent in Salisbury, England, in March 2018. Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images

U.K. prosecutors said they had enough evidence to charge Denis Sergeev, a member of the Russian military intelligence service, in the 2018 Salisbury nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy, according to AP.

Why it matters: Sergeev is the third person to face charges for the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, both of whom survived.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: More boycotts coming for Facebook

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Leaders of the Stop Hate For Profit social media boycott group are discussing whether to organize another campaign against Facebook in light of an explosive investigative series from the Wall Street Journal, Common Sense CEO Jim Steyer tells Axios.

The intrigue: Sources tell Axios that another group, separate from the Stop Hate For Profit organization, is expected to launch its own ad boycott campaign this week.

Democrats' dwindling 2022 map

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats are trying to unseat only about half as many Republican House members next year as they did in 2020, trimming their target list from 39 to 21.

Why it matters: The narrowing map — which reflects where Democrats see their best chance of flipping seats — is the latest datapoint showing the challenging political landscape the party faces in the crucial 2022 midterms.