“The mission of EPA is to protect human health and the environment.” This very simple statement comes straight from the EPA’s website. However, some of the work at the EPA’s top levels of administration has been counter-productive to this goal.
Currently Mike Flynn (no not that one, a different Mike Flynn), is the acting deputy of the EPA. President Trump’s nominee for the position is Andrew, Wheeler, a former lobbyist for (you never saw it coming) several companies working against the environment, to be number two only to Scott Pruitt. Since 2009, Andrew Wheeler has worked as a consultant and lobbyist representing some of the biggest fossil fuel companies, including a uranium mining company, a refrigerant manufactuers, and one of the biggest US coal companies. Several environmental groups such as the Sierra Club disapprove of this nomination greatly.
Further, Andrew Wheeler’s nomination comes approved from Senator James Inhofe, famous for bringing a snowball into the Senate floor, to disprove climate change. Wheeler worked with Senator Inhofe for 15 years on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, including aiding in defeating a 2008 bill on climate change before leaving to work in lobbying and consulting.
Wheeler’s work has helped influence legislators to mold environmental law based on these lobbying efforts. Clearly, there is a conflict of interest present in this nomination and Sierra Club’s legislative director Melinda Pierce declared Wheeler “unfit for the job as Deputy EPA Administrator”. While working for Murray Energy, America’s largest coal mining company, Murray (CEO) layed out a plan with Pruitt that included repealing laws involving limits on Mercury and pushed for the US to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Before working for Senator Inhofe, Wheeler has working in the EPA in the 1990s in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, focusing on the regulation of toxic chemicals. While this work may be relevant to today’s goals, his overwhelming work as a lobbyist and climate change denier overcomes it. Scott Pruitt has praised Wheeler, saying“He has spent his entire career working to improve environmental outcomes for Americans across the country and understands the importance of providing regulatory certainty for our country.” It’s hard to see the his impact after Wheeler was hired by the refrigerant company ICOR International to lobby Congress and the EPA for less stringent ozone regulations.
Wheeler is nominated at a crucial time as the EPA plans to repeal the Obama-era clean Power Plan, one of the biggest pieces of EPA legislation of the previous administration. Wheeler has extensive knowledge on how to internally dismantle this plan as well as other large acts passed in the past administration. Considering his work for various large companies opposing fossil fuel and climate change regulations, he should be automatically disqualified from being nominated to this position. However, we are here in a new political era of denying that anything humans do actually have an extensive impact on the environment.
If you would like to help oppose Wheeler’s confirmation, call YOUR state senators to voice your concern about Andrew Wheeler’s history and future potential.