Trump picks ex-coal lobbyist as federal EPA administrator

President Donald Trump formally nominated Andrew Wheeler to be Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, as the federal government shutdown entered its 20th day, with no end in sight.

Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt got booted from his EPA post as a result of his numerous scandals, but instead of cleaning house, the president selected his deputy, a former coal-industry lobbyist, to take his place.

Pruitt spent thousands of taxpayers dollars on coins, flights, and security booths while overturning and weakening important rules that protected us from dirty air and contaminated water.

Wheeler, who previously worked in the law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, representing coal magnate Robert E. Murray and lobbying against the Obama Administration’s environmental regulations, is a critic of limits on greenhouse gas emissions and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The UN panel of scientists determined that the Earth will reach a ‘tipping point’ if climate crisis is not addressed within 12 years. After that, the build up of carbon in the atmosphere will be too much to stop catastrophic results from rising global temperatures.

“Once again the Trump Administration has chosen an inappropriate time to make an announcement regarding the health and welfare of our environment,” said Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). “After doubling down on the senseless Trump Shutdown, the White House has formally nominated Andrew Wheeler to serve as the Administrator of the EPA.”

“Mr. Wheeler’s record of rollbacks as Acting Administrator leaves me wondering if he is up to the task of protecting the water we drink and air we breathe,” said Pallone. “If he intends to adequately fulfill the mission of the EPA – to protect human health and the environment – a drastic change in course is needed. Wheeler might not be the cartoon villain that Scott Pruitt was as Administrator, but he’s no Captain Planet.”

Environmentalists say Wheeler is smarter and more plugged in to Washington than Pruitt was, making him likely to pursue the same anti-regulation agenda without all of his predecessor’s baggage.

“I have serious concerns with how Trump’s EPA has consistently sided with the special interests over people’s health and the environment, and the Energy and Commerce Committee will be looking to restore the environmental protections that have been gutted,” said Pallone.

In contrast to Pruitt, an Oklahoma conservative who alienated a growing number of fellow Trump-supporting Republicans, Wheeler is a smooth insider with a penchant for policy details and a reputation for working well with both friends and adversaries.

Those who have dealt with him say he’s going to advance the broad deregulatory agenda that Pruitt and Trump have been pursuing.

“The problem with the Pruitt approach is it’s like a sugar high,” said Jeff Navin, a Democratic lobbyist and former Energy Department staffer who has shared lobbying clients with Wheeler. “It feels really, really good for a moment, but if you’re not following rules and procedure, not laying down substance for the decision you’re making, you’re not going to last very long.”

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