At the end of last week, the White House issued a statement detailing a few more appointments made to senior posts by the President, including the long-absent deputy administration of the beleaguered Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To no-one’s surprise, that position has gone to Andrew Wheeler, a coal lobbyist and a killer of climate change regulations.
As has been widely reported, the EPA is currently being run by the most anti-scientific, pro-coal administrator in its entire history. With almost entire scientific advisory boards and senior posts going to former industry darlings, the appointment of Wheeler is par for the course.
Until recently, he’s been working at Faegre Baker Daniels, an international law firm that advises multinational businesses. His role involved co-leading the firm’s energy and natural resources practice, and much of his legal career has involved supporting the efforts of the coal industry – including the notorious Murray Energy – which has involved attempts to sue the very organization he’s to be second-in-command of.
Wheeler is also a former aide to Senator Jim Inhofe, who is arguably most infamously known among the scientific community for throwing a snowball on the floor of the Senate in order to mock the concept of global warming. Thanks to his work, several bipartisan climate initiatives and pieces of legislation have been killed off.
Specifically, these bills hoped to implement a cap-and-trade system, one in which companies would be fined if their greenhouse gas emissions exceeded a scientifically-determined value, and in which they could buy and sell additional allowances.
This scheme – one which has been successfully implemented in various other nations around the world – provides a financial incentive for large companies to cut their emissions. It’s been seen as a useful climate control mechanism by both liberal and conservative politicians in the US, but it’s never quite made it off the floor of the US Capitol, and Wheeler is one of those responsible for this.
Wheeler has been known to avoid the science behind climate change during legislative debates, instead focusing his arguments on the idea that climate policies engender economic strangleholds on industry and the wider economy – something that is being continuously and thoroughly debunked.
The most anyone can say about Wheeler’s relevant experience is that he once had a short stint at the EPA as a low-level staffer.
“Halloween apparently came early this October because the nomination of Andrew Wheeler as Deputy EPA Administrator is absolutely horrifying,” Melinda Pierce, the Legislative Director of the Sierra Club, said in a statement.
“There actually could not have been a worse choice for this highly influential position that is charged with protecting the health and communities of Americans across the nation.”