Worry and relief at EPA after Pruitt's exit

Federico Mansilla
Julio 10, 2018

"I have accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency", tweeted the president, ending months of speculation about the future of the man he tasked with dismantling Barack Obama's green legacy.

With an "impeccable reputation" and "the experience to be a strong leader at the EPA", Wheeler - according to the senator - "will continue the important deregulatory work that Scott Pruitt started while being a good steward of the environment". During this time, however, Wheeler primarily worked as a top aide to Sen.

Noah Bookbinder released what has to be one of the shortest statements ever in reaction to Scott Pruitt's resignation from the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday.

The senator praised Wheeler past year when he was nominated to the EPA deputy administrator post, saying, "there is no one more qualified than Andrew to help Scott Pruitt restore EPA to its proper size and scope".

Wheeler left a position as a top aide in the Senate almost a decade ago to become a successful lobbyist for the energy industry. "Administrator Pruitt, through his own actions, lost that trust". The "red team" would write a critique of the overwhelming scientific consensus, the "blue team" would rebut that critique, and so on.

Pruitt attended a July 4 picnic at the White House.

Unsurprisingly, other environmental advocacy groups are also applauding Pruitt's departure. In 2015, he joined a multi-state lawsuit against the EPA in an ongoing effort to block the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which calls for reducing carbon emissions from the US power sector 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Beyer and Lieu, in their letter to the inspector general, said the allegations were supported by an analysis of Pruitt's public calendars.

Wheeler's and others' lobbying efforts worked: Late previous year, President Donald Trump traveled to Utah to officially announce the reduction of Bears Ears.

"Directly following the 2016 election, I voluntarily stopped any advocacy activity with EPA under the anticipation that I might be considered for a position at the Agency", Wheeler added.

"Andrew Wheeler's coal credentials are without equal".

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The Trump administration is shifting "from a team stocked with high-profile personalities" to "one with a growing number of technocrats" such as Wheeler, the Washington Post reported.

After Pruitt's resignation, all eyes are on Wheeler. Wheeler acknowledged he attended but said he couldn't remember any details.

Jeffrey Holmstead, a partner at Bracewell and a former acting administrator for air at the EPA during the George W. Bush administration, told Politico that he expects to see a "much more typical EPA with Andy there".

Twitter meme creator Darth tweeted with a picture of other Trump administration officials who have also resigned, including former Press Secretary Sean Spicer and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

According to Greenpeace's Redman, though, being a longtime Washington insider does not make Wheeler's leadership of the EPA less concerning than Pruitt's.

When she spotted Pruitt at Teaism Penn Quarter, Kristin Mink said she made a decision to confront the Trump appointee.

Earlier this week he was urged to resign by a woman who confronted him in a restaurant, criticizing his policy and the cuts he's made to emission standards.

Working on behalf of Murray Energy, the nation's largest privately owned coal company, Wheeler lobbied for the repeal of environmental regulations.

"Now we have his deputy administrator coming in, and it's not clear whether this person is committed to protecting the environment".

While Wheeler did not lobby the EPA while he was under consideration for a job at the agency, his lobbying firm's colleagues did. "He is, without question, a member of the coal industry's Hall of Fame", said Sen.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) expressed concerns about Wheeler in April, calling him an "unabashed climate denier" but someone with "more friends than enemies in Washington".

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