Scott Pruitt resigned as the head of the EPA after months of mounting scandals that served as an increasing distraction for the administration of President Donald Trump.
His successor will be the EPA’s current deputy administrator Andrew Wheeler, a less controversial but arguably more dangerous figure.
The American people should be deeply concerned about the new EPA chief. Here are some of the biggest red flags in his background.
Wheeler Will Be Better at Destroying the Environment
Wheeler is described by the New York Times as a “consummate Washington insider who avoids the limelight and has spent years effectively navigating the rules.”
The acting chief is known for being highly effective in his work and avoiding the sorts of personal scandals that consumed Pruitt.
Analysts believe Wheeler could be more effective than Pruitt at implementing Trump’s deregulatory agenda at the EPA.
Wheeler Was an Energy Industry Lobbyist
Following his tenure at the EPA in the administration of George W. Bush, he became a lobbyist for Murray Energy. The head of the company is a supporter of Trump’s.
“Like Pruitt, this veteran coal lobby lobbyist has shown only disdain for the E.P.A.’s vital mission to protect Americans’ health and our environment,” Ana Unruh Cohen, managing director for government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Times.
Wheeler Worked for a Climate Change Denier
The acting EPA administrator previously worked for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), a climate change denier who called the science “the greatest hoax” ever perpetrated on Americans.
Many remember Inhofe for his attempt to debunk global warming “hysteria” by bringing a snowball into the Senate.
Wheeler Really Loves Coal
He served as the vice president of the Washington Coal Club.
This organization is a quiet federation of more than 300 coal producers, corporate leaders, policy professionals and lawmakers.
Founded in 1981, the WCC is a powerful force for the coal industry today.
Wheeler Lobbied to Open Public Land to Uranium Mining
“[We] respectfully request that DOI reduce the size of the BENM to only those specific areas or sites, if any, deemed to need additional protection beyond what is already available to Federal land management agencies,” Energy Fuels Resources wrote to the Trump administration in a request to open parts of Bear Ears National Monument to uranium mining.
FaegreBD was the lobbying firm that helped the organization petition the administration.
The two lobbyists who worked the Energy Fuels Resources case? Mary Bono, and now-acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler.
Enjoy this piece?
… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.
It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.
Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.