Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Science | By Clint Wade

With Pruitt’s Departure, More Than A Quarter of Trump’s Cabinet Has Changed

With Pruitt’s Departure, More Than A Quarter of Trump’s Cabinet Has Changed

"We have in Andrew Wheeler someone who has made a career out of trying to block everything we've done to try to protect our children from the growing dangers of climate change - a person who has made a career out of trying to push back against common sense safeguards to protect the air we breathe from unsafe chemicals like mercury, arsenic and others", says Bob Deans of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Wheeler shares numerous Pruitt's policy views and was confirmed as deputy in April with only three Democratic votes. I have no doubt and complete confidence he will continue the important deregulatory work that Scott Pruitt started while being a good steward of the environment.

Pruitt was a former Oklahoma attorney general who filed a number of lawsuits against the EPA, according to the agency's website. The reason Pruitt persisted so long is the same reason why his environmentalist foes shouldn't break out the organic Champagne: The administrator was doing exactly what his boss wanted.

Trump has praised Pruitt for slashing regulations on the energy and manufacturing industries, including his move to repeal Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature program to cut carbon emissions from power plants, known as the Clean Power Plan.

Kieran Suckling, from America's Centre for Biological Diversity, said: "Despite his brief tenure, Pruitt was the worst EPA chief in history".

Spent years playing various roles on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, which oversees the EPA, drafting regulations on chemical safety, air and water pollution and climate change - generally seeking to reduce government regulations on industries that generate greenhouse gases.

At the time, the president was feuding with Sessions over the AG's decision to recuse himself from the Russian Federation investigation, according to CNN, which cited three people familiar with Pruitt's pitch.

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As acting EPA head, "Andrew Wheeler is well prepared to continue the progress already made under President Trump", Barrasso added.

Before taking the job at the EPA, Wheeler worked as an energy lobbyist on Capitol Hill. "Wheeler is ethically compromised", said a statement by Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, an environmental campaign group, back in April.

"In many ways, Wheeler is the polar opposite [of Pruitt]", said Holmstead.

Samantha Dravis, who recently resigned as Pruitt's policy chief, told investigators last week that Pruitt had made clear to her before and after he became EPA administrator that he would like the attorney general's job, held then and now by Jeff Sessions.

The conclusion: Wheeler has all of the same environmental positions as Pruitt, but he's much smarter at navigating Beltway politics. Wheeler also represented Underwriters Laboratories, which does testing and certification for the EPA among other organizations; Xcel Energy; and Insurance Auto Auctions, a salvaged vehicle company, according to his financial disclosure form.

But revelations about his behavior continued to mount, including reports that he repeatedly enlisted subordinates to help him search for housing, book personal travel and even help search for a six-figure job for his wife. In them, he noted that Trump gave money to both political parties over the years and said Trump was a successful PR person but not a successful businessman.

He has been under scrutiny for renting an apartment with ties to a fossil fuels lobbyist. "Americans will not tolerate another EPA administrator whose primary goal is to fight the core mission of the EPA".

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