Trump Aims to Make Former Coal Lobbyist Wheeler Permanent EPA Chief

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2019 – President Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler today to be the permanent administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The former coal industry lobbyist has been the agency’s acting administrator since the resignation of scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt in July.

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“The only thing Wheeler is going to protect at the EPA is the profits of polluters,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “I’m sure corporate board rooms will celebrate this nomination. But for anyone who drinks water, breathes air or cares about wildlife, this will be nothing but awful.”

As acting administrator Wheeler has pushed forward a number of Pruitt’s plans to dismantle critical environmental protections.

In August Wheeler released a proposed rule that would gut fuel-efficiency and tailpipe pollution standards for cars. The proposal also seeks to revoke California’s ability to maintain its own automobile standards at the more protective levels set in 2012.

Later that month Wheeler unveiled a proposed replacement for the Clean Power Plan that would let states decide how, or even whether, to limit power-plant pollution. The EPA’s own analysis concluded that this proposed rule would lead to up to 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030.

In December Wheeler rolled out a weakened rewrite of the Waters of the United States rule, another target of Pruitt.

Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate to act as deputy administrator, but he will have to be confirmed again in order to permanently take the agency’s helm.

“Wheeler has advanced the same destructive agenda as Pruitt, but without sideshow antics slowing him down,” Hartl said. “If he’s confirmed, Wheeler would surpass Pruitt as the most dangerous EPA administrator of all time. The Senate must not give him the chance.”

www.biologicaldiversity.org