By Vijay Limaye
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2018 censoring science proposal aimed to undercut the agency's application of landmark public health science by severely restricting its use in decision making. The proposal was a dangerous disaster that lacked any sound legal basis and threatened to impose draconian and hugely costly restrictions on the types of scientific information eligible for consideration by EPA in implementing laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act. Those laws have delivered major health and economic benefits to the American public over the past 50 years, and that progress was put in direct peril because of this transparent attempt to undercut the evidence-based approach that has made environmental protection so effective in the U.S.
- EPA Cuts Science Panel That Reviewed Deadly Air Pollutants ... ›
- Trump's Hand-Picked Scientists Rebuke EPA Rollbacks - EcoWatch ›
- EPA Proposal to Restrict Science Panders to Polluters - EcoWatch ›
EPA Watchdog: White House Blocked Part of Truck Pollution Investigation, Caused Lack of Public Information
The Trump administration pushed through an exemption to clean air rules, effectively freeing heavy polluting, super-cargo trucks from following clean air rules. It rushed the rule without conducting a federally mandated study on how it would impact public health, especially children, said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General Charles J. Sheehan in a report released yesterday, as the AP reported.
- EPA Dissolves Program That Studies Effects of Chemical Exposure ... ›
- 'Every Child Born Today Will Be Profoundly Affected by Climate ... ›
- Study Links Air Pollution and Teenage Psychotic Experiences ... ›
- Mapping the US Counties Where Traffic Air Pollution Hurts Children ›
- Even Small Spikes in Air Pollution Can Threaten Children's Mental ... ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The Environmental Protection Agency's top internal watchdog rebuked the department head's chief of staff for "open defiance" in refusing to cooperate with an audit and an investigation into whether he pressured a department scientist to change her congressional testimony, as the New York Times reported.
- 10 Scandals that Ultimately Booted Pruitt - EcoWatch ›
- 10 Ways Andrew Wheeler Has Decimated EPA Protections in Just ... ›
- Former Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler Confirmed to Head the EPA ... ›
By Elliott Negin
On July 8, President Trump hosted a White House event to unabashedly tout his truly abysmal environmental record. The following day, coincidentally, marked the one-year anniversary of Andrew Wheeler at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first as acting administrator and then as administrator after the Senate confirmed him in late February.
1. Sidelined Scientists<p><span style="background-color: initial;">Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, has taken a number of steps to systematically reduce the role of scientists in the agency's policymaking process. Last fall, for example, he </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/climate/epa-science-adviser.html" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">eliminated</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> the agency's Office of the Science Advisor, which counseled the EPA administrator on research supporting health and environmental standards, and </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/climate/epa-etzel-children-health-program.html" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">placed</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> the head of the EPA's Office of Children's Health Protection on administrative leave. He also </span><a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/11/climate/epa-disbands-pollution-science-panel.html" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">disbanded</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> a 20-member scientific advisory committee on particulate matter, or soot; </span><a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060102455" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">failed</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> to convene a similar panel on ozone; and </span><a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060102455" target="_blank" style="background-color: initial;">packed</a><span style="background-color: initial;"> a seven-member advisory committee on air quality standards with industry-friendly participants.</span><span style="background-color: initial;"></span><br></p>
2. Proposed to Restrict the Use of Scientific Data<p>Claiming his intent is to increase "transparency," Wheeler is promoting a rule Pruitt proposed that would dramatically limit the scientific studies the agency considers when developing health standards. If adopted, the rule would restrict the use of scientific studies in EPA decisions if the underlying data are not public and reproducible, which would disqualify many epidemiological and other health studies the EPA relies on to set science-based public safeguards. Given that EPA health standards often rely on studies that contain private patient information, as well as confidential business information that cannot be revealed, the rule would significantly hamper the agency's ability to carry out its mission. Wheeler <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/421479-epa-to-pursue-final-science-transparency-rule-in-2019" target="_blank">plans</a> to finalize the rule sometime this year.</p>
3. Gutted the Coal Ash Rule<p>The first major <a href="https://www.epa.gov/coalash/coal-ash-rule" target="_blank">rule</a> Wheeler signed as acting administrator refuted his claim that he could fulfill President Trump's <a href="https://www.apnews.com/0012648e385d41f481f0af20a90f0666" target="_blank">directive</a> to "clean up the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief" at the same time. By rolling back the Obama-era coal ash rule, Wheeler provided regulatory relief to his old friend the coal industry by weakening environmental protections established in 2015 to clean up coal ash ponds, which are laced with toxic contaminants that leak into groundwater. The move was a <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060083703" target="_blank">top priority</a> for coal baron Bob Murray, owner of Murray Energy, Wheeler's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/epas-acting-administrator-has-long-lobbying-record-on-issues-before-the-agency/2018/07/05/a591cd40-6a6b-11e8-bea7-c8eb28bc52b1_story.html?utm_term=.07ea8ecca216" target="_blank">most lucrative client</a> when he worked for the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm.</p><p>Coal-fired power plants have been dumping this residue from burning coal into giant, unlined pits for <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/07/02/us/ap-us-coal-ash-liability.html" target="_blank">decades</a>. According to the EPA, there are more than <a href="https://www.epa.gov/coalash/frequent-questions-about-2015-coal-ash-disposal-rule#3" target="_blank">1,000 coal ash disposal sites</a> across the country, and a recent <a href="https://www.environmentalintegrity.org/news/first-comprehensive-national-study-of-coal-ash-pollution-finds-widespread-groundwater-contamination/" target="_blank">analysis</a> by Earthjustice and the Environmental Integrity Project found that 91 percent of the coal plants filing monitoring data required by the 2015 rule are polluting water with unsafe levels of toxic contaminants. Wheeler's EPA <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-finalizes-first-amendments-coal-ash-disposal-regulations-providing-flexibilities" target="_blank">says</a> the new rule—which extends the deadline for closing some leaking ash ponds and allows states to suspend groundwater monitoring and set their own standards—will save utilities as much as $31 million. But the agency ignored the enormous costs of cancer and neurological and cardiovascular diseases <a href="https://www.psr.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/coal-ash-hazardous-to-human-health.pdf" target="_blank">linked</a> to coal ash ingredients, which include arsenic, chromium, lead and mercury.</p>
4. Recommended Unsafe Levels of Drinking Water Contaminants<p>Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are used in firefighting foam and a variety of nonstick, cleaning, packaging and other household products, have been <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/23/pfas-everyday-products-toxics-guide" target="_blank">linked</a> to thyroid disease and kidney, liver, pancreatic and testicular cancer. According to a recent <a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drinking-water-may-contain-pfas-chemicals-in-43-states-according-to-new-study-by-environmental-working-group/" target="_blank">study</a> by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University, these chemicals threaten the drinking water supplies of an estimated 19 million Americans. A 2018 Union of Concerned Scientists <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/preserving-science-based-safeguards/toxic-threat-pfas-contamination-military-bases" target="_blank">report</a>, meanwhile, found that PFAS water contamination at 130 military bases across the country exceed the 11-parts-per-trillion safety threshold determined by the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Nearly two-thirds of the sites had contamination that was more than 100 times higher than the safe level.</p><p>In February, Wheeler <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-acting-administrator-announces-first-ever-comprehensive-nationwide-pfas-action-plan" target="_blank">announced</a> the "first-ever nationwide action plan" to regulate PFAS chemicals in water, saying the agency would develop and set a limit for two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. During the announcement, he <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/14/politics/epa-pfas-water-plan/index.html" target="_blank">told</a> reporters he believes the agency's voluntary 70-part-per-trillion health-advisory level for the chemicals is "a safe level for drinking water," despite the fact that this level is more than six times higher than what the Disease Registry considers safe.</p><p>While Wheeler slow-walks the EPA's response, members of Congress have introduced at least a <a href="https://saferchemicals.org/2019/05/29/communities-call-on-congress-to-act-on-pfas/" target="_blank">dozen</a> bills to address PFAS contamination, and the <a href="https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/450706-senate-vote-requires-military-epa-to-deal-with-harmful-forever" target="_blank">Senate recently passed</a> a defense bill that would require the EPA to set a science-based standard for PFAS in drinking water.</p>
5. Rolled Back Clean Water Act Protections<p>Clearing up a decade-long dispute over the scope of the Clean Water Act, the Obama EPA <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/28/us/obama-epa-clean-water-pollution.html" target="_blank">adopted</a> a broad, science-based definition of the law that included protecting intermittent and ephemeral streams and wetlands that do not have surface water connections to other waterways. A <a href="https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/risk/recordisplay.cfm?deid=296414" target="_blank">2015 EPA meta-analysis</a> of more than 1,200 peer-reviewed studies concluded that even infrequently flowing small streams and isolated wetlands can affect "the integrity of downstream waters." Trash them and that pollution could wind up in rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries.</p><p>Regardless, Wheeler <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-and-army-propose-new-waters-united-states-definition" target="_blank">announced</a> plans during a December telephone press briefing to reverse the Obama EPA definition of waters protected by the Clean Water Act, a thinly disguised gift to land developers and the agriculture industry. When asked what wetlands would no longer be protected, Wheeler <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060109323/" target="_blank">replied</a>, "We have not done … a detailed mapping of all the wetlands in the country." Likewise, EPA Office of Water head David Ross—who <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060058019" target="_blank">represented industry clients</a> against the EPA before joining the Trump administration—<a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060109323/" target="_blank">told</a> reporters on the call that the agency had no idea how many streams would be dropped from Clean Water Act protection under the proposal.</p>In fact, Wheeler and Ross were well aware of the damage their new definition would do. At least 18 percent of streams and 51 percent of wetlands across the country would not be covered under their proposed definition, according to an internal 2017 <a href="https://www.eenews.net/assets/2018/12/11/document_gw_05.pdf" target="_blank">slideshow</a> prepared by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers and <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060109323" target="_blank">obtained by E&E News</a> under the Freedom of Information Act.
6. Suppressed an Inconvenient Formaldehyde Report<p>Last August, Wheeler disingenuously told a Senate committee that the EPA was holding up the release of a report on the risk of cancer from formaldehyde to confirm its veracity. "I am sure we will release it," he <a href="https://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/a/f/afffe2f0-6008-4c2a-af13-87d1cb26d6be/7564C79E99E118F3853D747150119932.spw-080118.pdf" target="_blank">said</a>, "but I need to make sure that the science in the report is still accurate."</p><p>In fact, the report—which concluded that formaldehyde can cause leukemia and nose and throat cancer—was completed by EPA scientists a year before Wheeler testified, according to <a href="https://www.markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Pruitt%20Letter%20formaldehyde%20assessment.pdf" target="_blank">a Senate investigation</a>, and their conclusion was hardly a surprise. Both the World Health Organization's <a href="https://monographs.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/mono100F-29.pdf" target="_blank">International Agency for Research on Cancer</a> and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services <a href="https://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsroom/releases/2011/june10/" target="_blank">National Toxicology Program</a> have already classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen.</p><p>The EPA's review process normally takes <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/29/climate/epa-mercury-emissions.html" target="_blank">60 to 90 days</a>. The formaldehyde report has been in limbo for at least a year and a half, a blatant giveaway to the <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/toxic-influence-how-a-che_b_8307272" target="_blank">American Chemistry Council</a>, the U.S. chemical industry's premier trade association, which has <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sowing-uncertainty-about-science-formaldehyde-decades" target="_blank">blocked tighter restrictions</a> on formaldehyde for decades.</p>
7. Ignored EPA Scientists’ Advice to Ban Asbestos<p>Instead of <a href="https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/815-e-p-a-memos-on-asbestos/12c87a96be998db10048/optimized/full.pdf#page=1" target="_blank">heeding the advice</a> of agency scientists and lawyers to follow the example of <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y5x2k32p" target="_blank">55 other countries</a> and ban asbestos completely, the EPA <a href="https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-strengthens-regulation-asbestos-close-loophole-and-protect-consumers" target="_blank">announced</a> in April that it would tighten restrictions on asbestos—not ban it—despite overwhelming scientific evidence of its dangers. Manufacturers will be able to continue to use the substance if they obtain EPA approval.</p><p>Asbestos has not been produced in the United States <a href="https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-evaluation-asbestos-0" target="_blank">since 2002</a>, but is still imported for use in a wide range of commercial and consumer products, including auto brake components, roofing, vinyl floor tile, fire-resistant clothing, and cement pipes, sheets and shingles. One of the deadliest known carcinogens, asbestos kills <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180416005884/en/ADAO-Announces-New-Findings-Show-Asbestos-Related-Deaths" target="_blank">nearly 40,000</a> Americans annually, mainly from lung cancer.</p>
8. Weakened the Mercury Emissions Rule<p>In late December, the EPA proposed to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/climate/mercury-coal-pollution-regulations.html" target="_blank">significantly weaken</a> a rule restricting mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by recalculating its costs and benefits. The Obama EPA, which issued the rule in 2011, estimated it would cost utilities <a href="https://www.epa.gov/mats/regulatory-actions-final-mercury-and-air-toxics-standards-mats-power-plants" target="_blank">$7.4 billion to $9.6 billion</a> annually to install pollution controls and lead to <a href="https://www.epa.gov/mats/healthier-americans#impacts" target="_blank">$37 billion to $90 billion</a> in health benefits by reducing not only mercury, a potent neurotoxin, but also sulfur dioxide and soot, thus preventing 130,000 asthma attacks, 4,700 heart attacks, and as many as 11,000 premature deaths. The Wheeler EPA ignored the "co-benefits" of limiting sulfur dioxide and soot, and flagrantly <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/28/climate/mercury-coal-pollution-regulations.html" target="_blank">lowballed</a> the health benefits of curbing mercury alone at only $4 million to $6 million annually.</p><p>Most utilities have already complied with the mercury rule at <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y5885qy4" target="_blank">a fraction of the estimated cost</a>, but health advocates fear that this new, industry-friendly accounting method, which makes it appear that the cost to polluters far outweigh the rule's benefits, will <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/energy-environment/2018/12/28/epa-make-it-harder-tighten-mercury-rules-future/?utm_term=.84be4559d80d" target="_blank">set a precedent</a> for the EPA to sabotage an array of other public health protections.</p>
9. Slammed Vehicle Emission Rules Into Reverse<p>Last August, the EPA and the Transportation Department <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2018/08/02/trump-epa-fuel-economy-standards/887683002/" target="_blank">issued</a> a proposal to freeze vehicle tailpipe pollution and fuel efficiency standards, rolling back a 2012 Obama-era rule requiring automakers to boost passenger vehicle fuel economy to a fleetwide average of 54 miles per gallon by 2025. In a Wall Street Journal <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/make-cars-great-again-1533170415" target="_blank">opinion piece</a> titled "Make Cars Great Again" published a few days before the two agencies announced their proposal, Wheeler and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao charged that the Obama-era standards—the first to limit vehicle carbon emissions—are too burdensome for automakers and "raised the cost and decreased the supply of newer, safer vehicles."</p><p>Parroting the Trump administration's <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/climate/trump-fuel-economy.html?module=inline" target="_blank">line of reasoning</a>, Wheeler and Chao argued that fuel-efficient cars—which weigh less than gas-guzzlers—are not as safe, a contention that has been widely <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/02/climate/trump-fuel-economy.html?module=inline" target="_blank">debunked</a>. In fact, a 2017 <a href="https://www.nber.org/papers/w23340" target="_blank">study</a> concluded that reducing the average weight of new vehicles could result in fewer traffic fatalities.</p><p>In any case, freezing the standards at 2020 levels would be hard on the planet, not to mention Americans' wallets, <a href="https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-cooke/new-epa-administrator-same-bad-idea-car-standard-rollbacks-would-be-awful" target="_blank">according to</a> the Union of Concerned Scientists. It would result in an additional 2.2 billion metric tons of global warming emissions by 2040, amounting to 170 million metric tons in 2040 alone—the equivalent of the annual output of 43 average size coal-fired power plants. It also would cost drivers billions of dollars. In 2040 alone, they would have to pay an additional $55 billion to fill their gas tanks. Meanwhile, the design improvements automakers have made so far to meet the standards have already saved drivers more than <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/fuel-economy-ticker?_ga=2.130369487.1908070918.1561988567-899698819.1546975208" target="_blank">$86 billion</a> at the pump since 2012, and off-the-shelf technological fixes, the Union of Concerned Scientists says, would enable automakers to meet the original 2025 target.</p>
10. Rescinded the Clean Power Plan<p>Perhaps Wheeler's most damaging move to date came late last month when he <a href="https://www.vox.com/2019/6/19/18684054/climate-change-clean-power-plan-repeal-affordable-emissions" target="_blank">signed</a> a final rule to repeal and replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, which would have required coal-fired power plants to dramatically cut their carbon emissions. Yet another gift to the coal industry, Wheeler's so-called Affordable Clean Energy rule grants states the authority to determine emissions standards but sets no targets, leaving them the option to do absolutely nothing.</p>Before Wheeler released the final rule, an April <a href="https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aafe25" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Environmental Research Letters found that his draft version would boost carbon emissions in 18 states and the District of Columbia and increase sulfur dioxide emissions in 19 states. The EPA's own <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/climate/epa-coal-pollution-deaths.html?module=inline" target="_blank">analysis</a> of the draft rule, meanwhile, found that the proposal could have led to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 due to an increase in soot, and as many as 15,000 cases of upper respiratory problems.
Reversing Decades of Bipartisan Protections<p>If Wheeler truly cared about transparency, he would petition the Trump administration to change the name of his agency to "Every Polluter's Ally." In just 12 months, he has killed or weakened dozens of safeguards with the sole intention of bolstering polluting industries' profit margins even after Congress slashed the corporate tax rate. As a result, millions of Americans will be drinking filthier water and breathing dirtier air, and more will suffer from serious diseases, according to his agency's own accounting.</p><p>Wheeler and his predecessor Pruitt have sullied the bipartisan track record of one of the nation's agencies entrusted with protecting public health and safety. So it is little wonder that three former EPA administrators who, notably, served under Republican presidents, recently <a href="https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11062019/epa-climate-change-anti-science-rebuke-gop-former-administrators-thomas-whitman-reilly-mccarthy" target="_blank">sounded the alarm</a> on Capitol Hill, urging legislators to step up their oversight of the agency and denouncing its attempts to hamstring science.</p>"There is no doubt in my mind that under the current administration the EPA is retreating from its historic mission to protect our environment and the health of the public from environmental hazards," former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who served under President George W. Bush, stated in her <a href="https://energycommerce.house.gov/sites/democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/files/documents/Testimony%20-%20Todd%20Whitman%2020190611.pdf" target="_blank">written testimony</a> for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "This administration, from the beginning, has made no secret of its intention to essentially dismantle the EPA…. Therefore, I urge this committee, in the strongest possible terms, to exercise Congress's oversight responsibilities over the actions and direction of the EPA."
Government Watchdog: EPA Broke Ethics Rules as It Replaced Academic Advisers With Industry Appointees
President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated ethics rules when it replaced academic members of advisory boards with industry appointees, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported Monday.
- Top Trump Official for Pipeline Safety Profits from Selling Oil Spill ... ›
- Former Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler Confirmed to Head the EPA ... ›
So little time, so much damage done. That's the legacy left by Bill Wehrum who spent only one and a half years as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) top air quality official before announcing that he will step down this weekend under the cloud of a federal ethics investigation over possible conflicts of interest. His resignation follows conflicting statement he made to Congress about his industry connections, according to Politico.
By Jeff Turrentine
When former administrator Scott Pruitt stepped down and Andrew Wheeler took over, few who care about clean air, clean water and climate change actually thought things were going to get dramatically better at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler, after all, came to the job after working as a coal lobbyist and a legislative aide to one of Congress's most notorious climate deniers. Still, given that he'd actually begun his career as a special assistant in the EPA's Pollution Prevention and Toxics Office, it wasn't outlandish to wonder if Wheeler might represent at least some kind of improvement over his predecessor.
EPA Administer Andrew Wheeler (left) and former administrator Scott Pruitt (right) at Wheeler's swearing-in ceremony.
'Finally!': Court Orders EPA to Stop Stalling Potential Ban on Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Kids
By Jessica Corbett
In a ruling welcomed by public health advocates, a federal court on Friday ordered the Trump administration to stop stalling a potential ban on a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, giving regulators until mid-July to make a final decision.
- Even 'Moderate' Consumption of Red and Processed Meat ... ›
- Wheeler's EPA Keeps Brain-Damaging Chlorpyrifos in Food ... ›
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.
- Trump Continues 'War on America's Oceans' With New Executive ... ›
- Trump's Offshore Drilling Plan Puts 68 National Parks at Risk ... ›
Wheeler has run the agency since July, when he replaced former administrator Scott Pruitt following a resignation prompted by numerous scandals. As acting administrator, Wheeler has confirmed the fears of environmentalists that he would be a "smarter" threat, pursuing President Donald Trump's deregulatory agenda without the distraction of Pruitt's more obvious corruption.
Health and labor organizations will have to argue again in court that chlorpyrifos, a brain-damaging pesticide, must be banned from all food uses, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. The decision comes four months after Andrew Wheeler's U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asked the court to rehear the case either by the three-judge panel that originally banned chlorpyrifos in 2018, or by a panel of 11 judges.