Just one year ago, Andrew Wheeler worked as one of the coal industry’s most powerful lobbyists, serving as coal baron Bob Murray’s Capitol Hill muscle, challenging environmental regulations and casting doubt on the science behind climate change.
On Monday, Wheeler will take over at the Environmental Protection Agency, after Administrator Scott Pruitt’s sudden resignation Thursday amid a five-month avalanche of ethics and legal controversies.
Wheeler’s ascension, while expected to return stability to the scandal-struck EPA, demonstrates how the administration secured the future of its radical plan to dismantle the nation’s leading public health agency at the behest of the industries it regulates, amid the distractions of Pruitt’s humiliating final months as the agency’s second-shortest-serving administrator in history.
“He will be potentially considerably more effective, both because you don’t have the daily drama that you’ve had for the last several months and because Andy knows how the system works,” said Stan Meiburg, a former acting deputy EPA administrator who spent 39 years at the agency. “He could be more effective for the administration in achieving its policy objectives.” [Continue reading…]