Editor's note: This post was updated on July 5, 2018, after the resignation of Scott Pruitt.
Scott Pruitt’s resignation as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency means that former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler will be leading the agency as acting administrator.
Those breathing a sigh of relief that Pruitt is gone might want to hold their breath.
Making things worse, Wheeler’s tenure as acting administrator could be lengthy, given the closely divided Senate and the controversial policies of the Trump administration in this area.
Wheeler spent years as an energy industry lobbyist
Here’s the bottom line: Andrew Wheeler running the EPA would go far beyond having an administrator overly influenced by lobbyists. We would have an actual energy industry lobbyist in charge.
On Wheeler’s client list was Murray Energy, one of the worst corporate citizens in America.
Working for a big lobbying firm, Faegre Baker Daniels, Wheeler lobbied on behalf of energy companies for nearly a decade, including Murray. He earned more than $3 million in income for his firm from the large coal mining company.
His coal mining client paid millions in fines
Since Wheeler began lobbying for Murray Energy, the company has paid millions in fines and penalties for contaminating waterways in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania with coal slurry and discharge, and for other health and safety violations.
In 2010, Murray Energy contaminated the Captina Creek in Ohio for the fourth time since 2000, with coal slurry. According to the Columbus Dispatch, coal slurry from Murray Energy spilled into the creek in 2000, 2005 and 2008.
In 2015, federal regulators accused Murray Energy of attempting to silence whistleblowers and said that “Murray Energy chided 3,500 workers for making too many confidential safety complaints to regulators and – at one of the mines – threatened to retaliate by closing down operations.”
As Wheeler’s client, Murray Energy created an “action plan” for EPA that called for overturning rules limiting mercury pollution, carbon pollution and air pollution that crosses state lines. It also called for cutting the EPA “at least in half.”
Insider knowledge could make him dangerous
Wheeler’s lobbying list of clients regulated by the EPA is extensive. It also includes corporate names such as Bear Head LNG Corporation, Celanese Corporation, Domestic Fuel Solutions Group, ICOR International and the Nuclear Energy Institute.
Wheeler may not rent a condo from lobbyists, fly first class and bill it to taxpayers, or commit any of the other personal ethical violations Pruitt did – but his agenda appears perfectly aligned with his former boss.
He’s devoted his career to defending the interests of the nation’s largest polluters, as a lobbyist and in jobs on Capitol Hill. As acting administrator, Wheeler will likely use his bureaucratic knowledge to continue to work for the goals of his past clients – with tragic results for our air, water, kids and heath.
That could make him even more dangerous than Scott Pruitt.
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Obviously, there is a flaw in the democracy of our great nation if one inept, incapable, moronic man can ruin our lands, our waters and our democratic government against the will of the people — 3 million of whom did not vote for this criminal, misogynist, sexist, law-breaking, narcissistic lying jackass. And none of us can do anything to stop him while we are being bullied and deceived every minute of every day. Please save our country now!
I am quite concerned about our environment and the need to curtail the EPA’s [decision to lie] in bed with corporations!
The only way to stop this scurvy crew of the Swamp Ship Trump, is to go out and vote in the Midterms, and "lobby" (ha) everyone you can, to get out and vote. So many folks have no idea what the Far Right agenda is, and how well planned it has been over the past 8 years or more.
Grow the swamp is more like it! Most diametrically opposed to the mission is the one put in charge. You should be ashamed!
You people moaning about someone at EPA being overly influenced by lobbyists! You don’t give a rip about that - what has your panties in a wad is that YOUR lobbyists don’t have a role in the shakedown of US taxpayer funds any more. Spare us your crocodile tears for good governance!
The environment is the first thing to save … without water and pure air there is no life .,. Why did we hope for someone with a better conscience to run the EPA, knowing the ignorance and brutality of the buffoon who named him to the post. The USA have hit a moral bottom in government. We must endure it a bit longer until the denial fades away!!! Vote blue.
This is a NO BRAINER!!!! If we don’t take care of our environment, the environment won’t take care of us. Reality check.....
No Wheeler! Save our planet and kids’ future. Decision makers must stand by Mother Earth and her people! No more profits before people and planet!
Melissa VerDuinApril 11, 2018 at 1:14 pm