By Matthew Gravatt, Sierra Club
In his first 100 days in office, former coal lobbyist and Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler has spared no time in gutting bedrock clean air, clean water, and public health safeguards. He got off to a terrible start. During his first week in office, Wheeler rolled back protections for coal ash, putting public health in danger and opening the door for more toxic pollution to be dumped into our waterways. He’s followed the same pattern since then.
In fact, we did the math: Wheeler has acted against protecting public health, clean air, and a safe climate, on average, once every three days. That means every three days he rolls back a new climate safeguard, ignores and contradicts science, meets with big polluters, limits the EPA’s ability to protect us from pollution, or gives in to corporate polluters’ demands. Every three days, our public health is put more at risk.
While Wheeler may talk about protecting our communities and children’s health, when we make him show his work, it’s clear his formula for protecting our environment doesn’t add up.
Here are Wheeler’s dirty deeds by the numbers. Just 100 days in, Acting Administrator Wheeler has made or led:
39 moves to attack our public health
14 major safeguard rollbacks
8 meetings with the fossil fuel industry and corporate polluters (at least)
8 misleading statements
3 office closings or dismantlings
and hired a former fossil Koch brothers executive
It seems Wheeler’s formula for running the EPA is as follows: Meetings with big polluters + misleading public statements + official rollbacks of our vital safeguards = more dirty air and water, more asthma attacks and sick days, and more money in big polluter’s pockets. While Wheeler may talk about protecting our communities and children’s health, when we make him show his work, it’s clear his formula for protecting our environment doesn’t add up.
From rolling back protections from methane, mercury pollution, and toxic chemicals; to gutting the Clean Power Plan and clean car standards; to firing the head of the Office of Children’s Health; to reducing the emphasis on public health in pollution safeguards; to hiring a former Koch Industries employee, Wheeler is not acting to promote public health or a safe and healthy environment, he’s working to do the bidding of the fossil fuel executives who used to sign his paychecks.
Clean air and water safeguards + listening to scientists + acting on climate = clean air and water, a safer climate, and improved public health. This is the formula Wheeler should follow if he wants to protect public health, not harm it. Meanwhile, we are counting the days until Wheeler leaves the EPA.