Andrew R. Wheeler, Principal at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, prominent coal lobbyist, and Trump nominee for EPA’s No. 2 spot. Photo: Faegre Baker Daniels

By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis
21 July 2017

(The Washington Post) – President Trump will nominate a prominent coal lobbyist and former Senate aide, Andrew Wheeler, to serve as the Environmental Protection Agency’s deputy administrator, according to two senior administration officials.

Wheeler, a principal at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, is a lobbyist for coal giant Murray Energy and served as a top aide for Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) when Inhofe chaired the Senate Environment Committee. He has represented Murray Energy — whose chief executive, Bob Murray, is a prominent supporter of the president — since 2009.

In addition to tapping Wheeler, according to the officials, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is preparing to pick three conservatives to head three key divisions within the agency. Trump will nominate Bill Wehrum as associate administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Matt Leopold to serve as EPA general counsel and David Ross as assistant administrator for Office of Water.

Wheeler and EPA officials declined to comment Friday. The fact that Wheeler was likely to be nominated was first reported by Axios on Friday.

The news of these appointments is likely to cheer those who criticized how the agency operated under President Barack Obama — and anger environmentalists. Wheeler has been an outspoken critic of nationwide limits on greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as scientific bodies such as the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

In March 2010, Wheeler commented on a National Journal blog post, saying that the IPCC “has functioned more as a political body than a scientific body” and that the agency should revisit its 2009 finding that carbon-dioxide emissions pose a threat to public health. He suggested lawmakers back a proposal at the time by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to overturn the endangerment finding and “allow legislators to craft sensible energy policy that can promote energy independence without killing our domestic production of fossil fuels.”

Tiernan Sittenfeld, the League of Conservation Voters’ senior vice president for government affairs, said in email, “With these nominations, President Trump is once again catering to his polluter allies and prioritizing their profits over our kids’ health.” [more]

Trump to tap longtime coal lobbyist for EPA’s No. 2 spot

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