Wheeler Would Be A Disaster As Head Of The EPA

As the Senate holds a confirmation hearing today for Andrew Wheeler to be Trump’s next EPA administrator, here’s a look at some of the many ways he would be a disaster as head of the agency:


Wheeler once served as the right-hand man to Washington’s most prominent climate denier.


New York Times: “Mr. Wheeler has worked in Washington for more than 20 years. He is a former chief of staff to Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, the conservative Republican who has become known as Washington’s most prominent denialist of the established science of human-caused climate change.”


Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist who built his career around regulatory rollbacks that benefit the fossil fuel industry.


New York Times: “His career was built around quietly and incrementally advancing the interests of the fossil-fuel industry, chiefly by weakening or delaying federal regulations. Mr. Wheeler has worked in Washington for more than 20 years.”

Even after joining the EPA, Wheeler continued to meet with clients he previously lobbied for.


Washington Post: “Since joining the EPA on April 20, Wheeler has met with multiple organizations and businesses that retained him in his capacity as a principal at Faegre Baker Daniels. The list includes biodiesel producer Darling Ingredients; agriculture giant Archer Daniels Midland and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, all of which ended their financial relationship with Wheeler’s firm before April 2016.”


As acting EPA administrator, Wheeler has already pushed proposals to benefit the coal industry at the expense of the climate and public health.


New York Times: “E.P.A. Will Ease Path To New Coal Plants.”


New York Times: “New E.P.A. Plan Could Free Coal Plants To Release More Mercury Into The Air.”


Wheeler relied on furloughed workers to prep for his confirmation hearings, raising questions over whether the agency violated spending law.


Washington Post: “A group of Senate Democrats says the Environmental Protection Agency may be violating spending laws by preparing the agency’s acting chief, Andrew Wheeler, for his confirmation hearing during a partial government shutdown. Four members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — Thomas R. Carper of Delaware; Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both of Maryland — sent a letter to the agency questioning whether it is improperly using resources to help Wheeler get ready for his confirmation hearing before them next Wednesday.”

Pushing Wheeler’s confirmation through during the shutdown could help him avoid fallout from a court-ordered release of emails detailing his industry contacts.

Roll Call: “Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has been formally nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a contentious confirmation fight just as a court order threatens the release of over 20,000 of his emails related to potential conflicts of interest. The White House on Wednesday formally sent Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate, triggering the start of the process. … On Dec. 26, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the release of more than 20,000 emails and meeting calendars sought by the Sierra Club as part of a lawsuit seeking records relating to any communications Wheeler and other agency officials had with representatives of regulated industries.”


Roll Call: “The partial government shutdown will play a role in timing. The administration was required to provide the court a document production schedule on Jan. 9, including an agreement to produce at least two tranches of documents by some point in February and all documents produced within ten months. A Jan. 2 order now requires it do so three business days after ‘the shutdown of the federal government has ended and relevant appropriations to the Department of Justice have been restored.’”