Confirming Andrew Wheeler Would Mean More Pollution and Health Problems for American Families

Statement of Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Environmental Defense Fund

January 16, 2019
Contact: Keith Gaby,, (202) 572-3336

NEWS RELEASE (Washington, D.C. – January 16, 2019) In his confirmation hearing, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler today laid out the vision of a lobbyist, not a leader—a vision that would endanger the health of American children and families. Before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Wheeler persistently provided narrow and misleading answers to important questions about the future of the agency he wants to lead.

“Andrew Wheeler made clear he’s committed to policies that will lead to more pollution, more asthma attacks and more damage from climate change,” said Elizabeth Gore, EDF’s Senior Vice President for Political Affairs, Environmental Defense Fund.

From his opening words through a series of evasive answers, Wheeler showed that, if confirmed, he would continue his focus on dismantling environmental safeguards, and would continue to tilt his agenda toward polluters. He also made statements about his priorities that contradict his record as Acting Administrator. Time after time, Wheeler ducked chances to show leadership, and showed that he is willing to say one thing while doing another:

  • Wheeler began his bid to lead EPA by not even uttering the words “climate change” in his opening statement.
  • He claimed to be reducing pollution, but has been busily rolling back limits that protect against the largest sources of climate pollution including cars, power plants, and oil and gas production — at the same that he undermines safeguards against toxic and smog-forming air pollution.
  • He claimed his Affordable Clean Energy proposal will reduce CO2 by roughly the same amount as the Clean Power Plan, but his own agency’s analysis shows that his rollbacks would significantly increase carbon pollution.
  • He promised to “vigorously enforce” enforcement laws, but a new study shows that new criminal case referrals from EPA dropped to their lowest level in more than three decades. EPA enforcement is dropping so much that the Government Accounting Office is investigating.
  • He professed concern about furloughed employees, but he has pressed for large cuts in EPA staffing.
“American families need a leader who will prioritize their health, not the needs of polluters,” said Gore. “The Senate needs to reject Andrew Wheeler’s nomination.”

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