Pro-polluter Andrew Wheeler Gets Tapped to Head the EPA

Like Scott Pruitt before him, the current acting administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has spent the last six months rolling back environmental and health protections.

Andrew Wheeler at a news conference at the EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Cliff Owen/Associated Press

President Trump formally nominated yet another pro-polluter to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has been serving as the EPA’s acting administrator since the scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018. “Even as acting administrator, Wheeler has proven he remains an ally of the coal and oil barons that once paid him, not of the American people whose health he should be protecting,” says Ana Unruh Cohen, director for government affairs at NRDC.

Despite his claims to uphold the EPA’s mission, Wheeler has acted in line with his predecessor’s anti-environment agenda. Since his taking over, the agency has moved to weaken federal fuel-efficiency standards, air pollution safeguards, and the Clean Water Rule, which impacts the drinking water supply for millions of Americans. “He’s worked to worsen the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the heat we feel,” Cohen says, “flouting the mission of the EPA at every opportunity.”

Relative to the tumultuous end of Pruitt—as well as now former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s tenure—Wheeler has flown largely under the radar. Alongside a Republican-held Senate, this means Wheeler’s approval is likely. “Americans deserve an EPA administrator who will protect them, not the big polluters,” Cohen says.

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