U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, who had been lauded by President Donald Trump for his aggressive efforts to roll back environmental regulations, resigned under heavy fire for a series of ethics-related controversies.
Now, EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler is all set to take his place.
He is widely expected to continue Pruitt's efforts to roll back and streamline regulation. Wheeler said in a message to EPA employees that he was “both humbled and honored” to lead the agency.
“I look forward to working hard alongside all of you to continue our collective goal of protecting public health and the environment on behalf of the American people,” he said.
However, he is much worse.
Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist and has worked for mining giant Murray Energy until mid-2017. The energy firm is operated by Robert E. Murray, who is a Trump supporter. Murray reportedly contributed $300,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund.
After the donation, he handed the president an “action plan” of regulations that he wanted to see from the coal industry. The plan reportedly included a federal bailout of coal-fired plants, repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and also challenged an EPA finding that determined carbon dioxide is harmful for human health.
Just few months after assuming office, Trump signed an executive order targeting the Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants. EPA began rolling back the plan in Oct. 2017.
In 2017, Wheeler served as a lobbyist for uranium mining company Energy Fuels Resources. The company operates outside the largest national monument, Bears Ears National Monument, in Utah.
In 2010, Wheeler wrote a blog where he criticized the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and said it has “has functioned more as a political body than a scientific body.”
However, the article has now been removed from Wheeler’s former lobbying firm’s, Faegre Baker Daniels, website.
Wheeler has worked in Washington for more than 20 years and he is also not new to the EPA as he has worked for the agency for several years in the 90s. His career revolves around advancing the interests of the fossil fuel industry – mainly by weakening or delaying federal regulations.
The former coal lobbyist would need to be confirmed in another Senate vote to become the permanent administrator. However, looking at his history, it doesn’t seem like he would be an improvement over Pruitt but will make things much worse.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Eric Vance/USEPA/Handout via REUTERS