Climate Change Energy Health

Trump nominates a coal lobbyist for the EPA’s no. 2 spot (because of course he did)

President Trump loves lobbyists so much, he keeps filling his administration with them. His latest pick is Andrew Wheeler, a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the country’s largest privately owned coal company, until as recently as August 11. That’s when Wheeler dropped Murray as a client amid speculation that he could become the next deputy administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Aside from the obvious reasons why a shill for the coal industry might not have the best interests of America’s public health or environment at heart, Wheeler has a long history of supporting climate science deniers and polluters. He’s the former chief counsel of Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe—also known as that guy who threw a snowball on the Senate floor to “disprove” global warming. According to the Sierra Club, which called his nomination “absolutely horrifying,” Wheeler has represented Big Coal in numerous lawsuits against the EPA.

But for Wheeler to get the job, the Senate must first give its blessing, and some Senate Democrats are already sounding the alarm. “In Andrew Wheeler, the president has tapped yet another fossil fuel industry lobbyist to help in the capture of the Environmental Protection Agency for big polluters,” says Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “He shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the office to which he’s been nominated.” To be fair, Wheeler sounds like the perfect person to share EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s soundproof phone booth—but can they both fit in there?    

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