People across social media (and even at EPA headquarters) rejoiced Thursday afternoon when news of Scott Pruitt’s resignation from the agency became public.
One battle has been won with his departure. But another battle brews with his replacement: Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist Trump appointed acting head of the EPA – and he promises to be every bit as bad as Pruitt when it comes to protecting our environment.
Although Wheeler, the consummate Washington insider, is unlikely to have Pruitt’s knack for prolific ethics scandals, we can be sure Wheeler will be every bit as devoted to the fossil fuel industry’s interests given his long career on behalf of the coal industry. Wheeler is more proof that Trump has no problem with the revolving door that puts industry leaders into key government positions.
And as we know, the coal industry is a big fan of Trump, who moved recently to subsidize coal and nuclear energy over clean renewable energy. As a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest underground coal company in the U.S., Wheeler helped smooth the way for his client, arranging and attending a meeting between billionaire CEO Robert Murray and energy secretary Rick Perry. A few days after Trump’s inauguration, Murray had sent Trump a “wish list” for gutting environmental protections that soon became his “to-do” list, much of which has been accomplished since. Wheeler deregistered as a lobbyist for Murray Energy three days after it donated $1 million to Trump’s super PAC.
Wheeler also worked for the notorious climate denier, Rep. James Inhofe. Where to begin? Inhofe may be the most notorious climate denier in Congress, and once compared the EPA to the Gestapo. But guess which company is Inhofe’s largest political contributor behind the Koch Brothers? Murray Energy.
You don’t have to look far to wonder where Wheeler’s interests lie. And it aligns perfectly with Trump’s desire to resuscitate the dying coal industry at the expense of our environment. We’ll keep working to oppose Trump’s pro-billionaire and pro-fossil fuel agenda at the EPA.