EPA Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler has replaced EPA head Scott Pruitt who resigned amid dozens of scandals, ethical violations and possible criminal actions.
Democracy Now notes that Wheeler is a former coal lobbyist for Murray Energy and former chief of staff for Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who is a long time climate change science denier.
Emily Atkin of The New Republic told Democracy Now that Wheeler would likely keep dismantling the EPA in favor of energy companies as Pruitt did:
So now we have Andrew Wheeler coming in to be the acting administrator. Andrew Wheeler is going to pursue the same policy agenda that Pruitt—that Pruitt, you know, pursued. And I think it’s sort of—Pruitt was a blessing in disguise for people in the environmental movement, because he was so ridiculous.
Because he said such ridiculous things all the time, people actually started to care about the environmental deregulatory process. Scott Pruitt was—you know, he was a symbol of what was happening. And now, with somebody who’s a little more low-key, who’s a little more boring, to be honest—I mean, these policies aren’t sexy to talk about.
You want to talk about methane leaks from oil and gas operations. You want to talk about the mechanics of scientific research and how we use it to fight air pollution. You talked about Steve Milloy. I mean, he’s a former tobacco lobbyist.
These scientific policies are the same ones that the tobacco industry was pushing when they wanted to not be liable for the harm they were causing to humans’ health. But Wheeler is going to be pushing those same things, and he’s not going to attract the same zhoosh that Scott Pruitt did.
Atkin later noted how the wheels are in motion to keep dismantling EPA policies:
The day that Scott Pruitt resigned, The New York Times published a story saying that the EPA is preparing to put out its replacement for the Clean Power Plan, Obama’s signature climate change regulation to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from coal plants. Andrew Wheeler, that’s his bread and butter.
He’s been wanting to weaken or repeal that regulation for a long time. And Andrew Wheeler has also, you know, expressed interest in trying to roll back one of the most important Supreme Court case rulings in climate change law at all, which is the law that says that carbon dioxide must be regulated as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.
So that’s something that I think we should be watching, because it’s going to have real, dangerous, long-term implications for the American people, if that does come to pass.
(Source: Democracy Now)