The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as No. 2 at EPA
The Senate voted on Thursday to confirm former Inhofe staffer and coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to the position of deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to serve as Scott Pruitt's second in command.
Democrats Heitkamp, Manchin and Donnelly joined with Republicans to give approval for Wheeler to move into a position regulating the industry on whose behalf he was just lobbying (for Murray Energy.)
And because Wheeler would become acting administrator in the event that Pruitt resigns or is fired, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) likened it to "a shadow confirmation vote for the next administrator of the EPA."
"Andrew Wheeler's coal credentials are without equal. He is, without question, a member of the coal industry's Hall of Fame," said Markey, the AP reported.
"Sadly, I am concerned that Andrew Wheeler's background means that he will never understand that saving coal is not the job of the EPA," Markey added. "It is the EPA's job to regulate coal to protect public health and the environment."
According to the AP, environmental groups said that Pruitt and Wheeler could be a devastating combination.
"Before the Trump administration, it would have been inconceivable that a coal and chemical industry lobbyist with a long history of hostility toward environmental policy would be the No. 2 at EPA," said Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group.
"Wheeler wrote a post on his personal Facebook account the day before Super Tuesday pleading with those considering voting for Trump to reconsider. In his six-point critique, Wheeler questioned Trump's character, business acumen and viability as a general-election candidate. Trump was a 'bully,' Wheeler wrote in the since-deleted Facebook post obtained by The Post. He said that Trump 'hasn't been that successful' in business and 'has more baggage then all of the other Republican candidates combined.' Wheeler added that Trump 'has demonstrated through the debates and interviews that he doesn't understand how the government works.'"
For a deeper dive:
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It Won’t Be 'the Rubbish Dump of the World'
The Southeast Asian country Malaysia has sent 150 shipping containers packed with plastic waste back to 13 wealthy countries, putting the world on notice that it will not be the world's garbage dump, as CNN reported. The countries receiving their trash back include the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada.
Madagascar has embarked on its most ambitious tree-planting drive yet, aiming to plant 60 million trees in the coming months. The island nation celebrates 60 years of independence this year, and the start of the planting campaign on Jan. 19 marked one year since the inauguration of President Andry Rajoelina, who has promised to restore Madagascar's lost forests.