It’s unmistakable. There is a policy war going on between those who want to protect the environment from the ravages of the oil and gas industry and industrial agriculture, and the charlatans whose summer homes depend on wringing out every bit of profit at the expense of our communities. Sun Tzu’s sage advice on this kind of thing was, “Know your enemy.” That’s why it’s important to map out what we think Wheeler’s five main dirty attacks on environmental protections will be. We can all better prepare to defend against Wheeler when we know what to expect. Here are our predictions:
Andrew Wheeler’s 5 Most Likely Attacks
1. Bailing out his friends in the coal industry by forcing increased consumption at higher costs to consumers. The environment and public health will have a steep price to pay, too.
During Wheeler’s time as a lobbyist, he made a lot of money off of Murray Energy Corporation — America’s largest coal company. The CEO is asking Trump for a favor to help keep unprofitable coal plants in operation.
2. He’s going to continue Scott Pruitt’s campaign of climate denial on several fronts — thwarting CO2 regulations like the Clean Power Plan, for instance.
Wheeler is a former aide of noted climate change denier Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) He’s expected to replace the current Clean Power Plan with a watered down version.
3. Demanding more exemptions from air reporting requirements for industrial agriculture like factory farms.
Trump’s EPA has been knocked (by its own inspection) for failing to enforce Clean Air Act requirements for concentrated animal feeding operations, or factory farms. Wheeler is likely to support bills seeking exemptions.
4. He’s going to weaken Clean Water Act protections.
Wheeler’s old boss, Sen. Jim Inhofe, and his predecessor Scott Pruitt, have a history of interfering with the EPA’s oversight of bodies of water. Wheeler can be expected to try to run this agenda to the end zone in his position.
5. Rolling back ozone and air pollution standards aimed at curbing oil and gas emissions — including stripping California of its right to set its own auto emissions standards.
California’s autonomy poses a challenge for auto manufacturers, who want one national set of standards — and in their view, the more diluted, the better. After the threat of Pruitt’s rollbacks, Wheeler can look like the good guy proposing national standards where the same rollbacks are buried, but are more difficult for groups to push back against.
This isn’t the entire list — we know there will be other areas where Andrew Wheeler creates and exploits loopholes for his industry friends. But for now, this is where we can shore up our defenses.
What can you do?
Be prepared with this knowledge. Subscribe to our email updates so you can be the first to know when Wheeler makes his move. Be ready to act as these attacks happen. That can look like creatively protesting with other local Food & Water Watch volunteer activists or helping to fund our work so that we can go after Wheeler in the courts or in the media. We know he’s going to strike, but we also know that if we join together, we don’t have to sit here and take it.