Now that Scott Pruitt has resigned from his post as chief administrator of the EPA (with an emotional letter praising President Trump), someone needs to fill his shoes. Andrew Wheeler, who acted as deputy EPA administrator, will now be the interim head of the agency. Unlike Pruitt, Wheeler is no stranger to Washington—he’s spent 20-odd years working inside the Beltway. So, who is he?
He’s a climate-change denier
Like Scott Pruitt before him, Andrew Wheeler has publicly challenged the scientific consensus that climate change is driven by human activity.
He’s worked for the EPA before
Under President George H.W. Bush, Wheeler was a special assistant in the EPA’s toxics office.
He’s a member of the “Inhofe mafia”
Wheeler’s also acted as chief of staff for Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, a fellow climate-change denier who famously threw a snowball on the Senate floor to call attention to cold temperatures. Former Inhofe staffers like Wheeler have filled energy and environmental roles throughout the Trump team, creating a loose network known as the “Inhofe mafia.”
He’s been a lobbyist
Most recently, Wheeler worked for Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, a group that earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from their coal and other energy-industry clients. One of those clients was Murray Energy, whose CEO made a large donation to Trump’s inauguration fund and offered a wish list of regulations he wanted to see weakened.
He has some environmentalists scared
Unlike Scott Pruitt, Andrew Wheeler has a reputation for avoiding scandal and the spotlight. Similarly to Pruitt, he favors deregulation. And if he chooses uncontroversial, above-ground strategies for his deregulation push, some activists predict they’ll have trouble challenging him in court.
In the coming weeks and months, we’ll be keeping an eye on Wheeler and what his decisions will mean for the planet. However he does (or doesn’t) act, we’ll keep you informed. Stay tuned.