Scott Pruitt Resigns from the EPA - Andrew Wheeler Takes Over

Gwen Vasquez
July 9, 2018

And Trump added, we have made tremendous progress, and the future of the EPA is bright.

"Before everyone gets excited about Pruitt, remember we're going to get all the same horrific policy under Andrew Wheeler, without any of the comic, attention-drawing personal corruption", Vox environment writer David Roberts tweeted after President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he had accepted Pruitt's resignation.

Many of the EPA regulations that Scott Pruitt scrapped or delayed as EPA administrator had not yet taken effect before his resignation. "You know, obviously the controversies with Scott but within the agency we were extremely happy".

Despite President Trump's promises that he defends the Renewable Fuel Standard, Pruitt acted repeatedly to undercut the biofuel law.

Wheeler is a Butler County native and Case Western Reserve University graduate who formerly worked for Ohio GOP Sen. "Next in line to run the EPA is a coal lobbyist". Moreover, he is believed to have severely weakened the agency by deregulating protections, leading environmentalists to be acutely critical of him. "The same energy and passion that helped boot Scott Pruitt will be focused on ensuring the next EPA administrator works for the public, not corporate polluters".

It's not just Wheeler's time in government that concerns environmental advocates.

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Andrew Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate in April to be the EPA's deputy administrator, but he was criticized by Democrats for his past ties to energy lobbyists.

His job had been in jeopardy since it emerged he had leased a property a year ago that was co-owned by the wife of a veteran fossil fuels lobbyist, whose firm had sought regulatory rollbacks from the EPA. He accompanied Murray CEO Bob Murray during a series of closed-door meetings to lobby the Trump administration to kill environmental regulations affecting coal mines.

"Wheeler is much smarter and will try to keep his efforts under the radar in implementing Trump's destructive agenda", Jeremy Symons, vice president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund told Politico in May of this year. One of his biggest clients was Murray Energy, which is one of the largest coal companies in the country.

Back in 2004, Wheeler was the staff director for Oklahoma Republican Rep. James Inhofe, the Senate's highest-profile denier of manmade climate change. "The acting administrator doesn't have the same authority as the administrator, but they can do an terrible lot".

The senator was also a supporter of Pruitt, according to the Times, and Wheeler's rise demonstrates the growing influence of a group of former Inhofe staff members across the Trump administration and Washington including Ryan Jackson, who is now the EPA's chief of staff. "He is a successful PR person, but not a businessman", he wrote on Facebook in February 2016. He called the then-candidate a "bully" and questioned his character, according to the Washington Post.

As for Wheeler, Mink says she is disappointed, but not surprised.

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