Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist and senate staffer, is set to replace Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As grateful as most people are to see scandal-ridden Pruitt leave the agency, there is good reason to be just as upset about his replacement as we were about his many ethics violations.
While he’s just as deep in the coal and oil industries as Pruitt was, if not deeper, it’s his political acumen that has people concerned that Wheeler will simply be a more effective version of his predecessor.
Having served as Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe’s chief of staff, Wheeler is no stranger to the ins and outs of life in Washington, D.C., and his experience as a lobbyist for the nation’s largest underground coal mining company allows him to appreciate both sides of the agency-industry dynamic.
In case you aren’t familiar with Inhofe, he’s the senator who famously brought a snowball onto the Senate floor in 2015 in a misguided attempt to disprove global warming.
Inhofe is considered to be the single most notorious climate-change denier in Washington, and now his former aid will head up the EPA.
Interestingly enough, Wheeler also served as a legislative aid on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, so you could say that his appointment brings his career full circle.
Although Pruitt implemented policies that were both nonsensical and quantifiably harmful to human health and the environment, his personal lack of professionalism and decorum meant that very few people took him seriously.
In fact, Pruitt’s buffoonery in itself was a catalyst that made people pay attention, that outraged them, and that forced them to act.
Wheeler, however, is a much more polished figure, and is far less likely to entangle himself in even half as many scandals as his predecessor.
Because he knows how to conduct himself like a legitimate government official, it’s very likely that Wheeler and his policy changes will fly under the radar, enabling him to destroy the EPA from the inside out without the public outcry Pruitt faced.
Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story.