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Former Coal Lobbyist Confirmed as No. 2 at EPA

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Andrew R. Wheeler testifies before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Nov. 8, 2017. Senate EPW

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.

As reported by the Washington Post, "Wheeler has changed his tune" about Trump after vehemently opposing his candidacy:

"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:

News: AP, New York Times, Mother Jones, CNN, Washington Post, WSJ, HuffPost, Inside Climate News, The Hill, Think Progress

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