UPDATE 2/28: Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate 52-47, with both Maine senators voting NO.
Former coal lobbyist and acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler has been nominated to take the position permanently. Confirmed by the Senate in April 2018 to be deputy administrator, Wheeler took over as acting administrator when Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid investigations of widepsread ethical violations. In his 10 months at the EPA, Wheeler has:
- Weakened rules to reduce greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, even after the EPA admitted their action will lead to up to 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030, up to 15,000 new cases of respiratory illness, and increases in bronchitis, and tens of thousands of missed school days for children.
- Announced plans to rollback protections on lakes, streams, and other waterways protected under the Clean Water Act, leaving a significant source of the nation’s water supply open to pollution.
- Issued a proposal to change the way the EPA calculates the benefit of environmental protections, a move that could dismantle regulations that have reduced mercury pollution and particulate matter from coal-fired power plants.
- Proposed removing requirements that would allow new coal-fired power plants to release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
- Met with representatives oil, gas, coal, and chemical companies and industry groups regulated by the EPA more than 50 times. He met with environmental groups just 3 times in the same period.
- During his confirmation hearing in January for this permanent post, Wheeler said climate change was not “the greatest crisis” facing the planet.
Before joining the administration, Wheeler was a fossil fuel industry insider who helped kill bipartisan climate legislation during his time as a top Senate staffer, and most recently served as a lobbyist for the coal industry. There were also reports that he hosted campaign fundraisers and contributed funds to two members of the Senate Committee that held his nomination hearing and who then went on to approve his nomination as deputy administrator. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works advanced Wheeler’s nomination Tuesday on a party-line 11-10 vote. The full Senate could vote on Wheeler this week. His nomination is opposed by a number of environmental advocacy groups, including the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) and the League of Conservation Voters,
- Sen. Susan Collins voted for Wheeler as deputy administrator. Tell her not to make the same mistake again. (See contact info below.)
- Sen. Angus King voted against Wheeler last April. Ask him to make the same choice now. (See contact info below.)
- Send a letter to senators Collins and King opposing Wheeler via this form from NRCM.