(Washington, D.C. – November 9, 2017) The Senate today confirmed industry attorney William Wehrum to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation – the person responsible for carrying out our nation’s clean air laws and protecting the health of American communities and families from harmful air pollution.
“Wehrum’s long and troubling record of attacking clean air safeguards calls into question his commitment to protecting American communities from dangerous air pollution and the urgent threat of climate change,” said EDF Director of Regulatory Policy and Senior Attorney Tomás Carbonell. “Wehrum has sued EPA to tear down clear air and climate protections at least 31 times in the last decade. And Wehrum’s record as both a private attorney and an official in President George W. Bush’s EPA demonstrates a repeated tendency to undermine vital protections for public health, clean air, and climate security.”
Since 2007, Wehrum represented many members of the pollution-heavy oil and coal industries that EPA is statutorily required to regulate while working as a lobbyist and attorney at the Washington office of Hunton & Williams. In those 31 lawsuits, he represented clients including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, American Chemistry Council, and Utility Air Regulatory Group.
Wehrum represented major polluters in at least two matters concerning EPA’s Air Office as recently as this summer – defending EPA Administrator Pruitt’s unlawful suspension of oil and gas pollution standards, and attacking urgently needed protections against chemical disasters like those that followed Hurricane Harvey.
Wehrum also spent six years in EPA’s Air Office under President George W. Bush, first as Counsel to the Assistant Administrator and then as Acting Assistant Administrator. Wehrum was the Air Office’s chief legal advisor when it issued some of the Bush Administration’s most harmful and unlawful environmental regulations, including rules that failed to properly protect Americans from mercury pollution and rules weakening New Source Review requirements for new and modified industrial facilities.
Wehrum also flagrantly rejects a core statutory duty of the office he will now lead – the Air Office’s obligation to protect Americans from dangerous climate pollution. In 2013, Wehrum told Law360 that he “continue[d] to believe, that Congress never intended the EPA to address an issue such as climate change under the Clean Air Act” – six years after the Supreme Court ruled otherwise.
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