By Michael Brune, Sierra Club
Andrew R. Wheeler, the acting administrator of the EPA, is Donald Trump’s nominee to succeed the disgraced Scott Pruitt. From Trump’s perspective, Wheeler’s a smart choice. Where Pruitt acted like a gung-ho commando who had parachuted behind enemy lines at the EPA, Wheeler is a methodical technocrat and veteran fossil fuel lobbyist who worked at the EPA during the first Bush administration. He knows both Washington and the agency far better than an outsider like Pruitt ever could. He’s the perfect apparatchik for the dirty job of executing Trump’s fossil fuels agenda: a shrewd and remorseless thief.
What is Wheeler charged with stealing? So many things. Progress made during the Obama administration on things like climate action, clean air and water, and protecting our public lands. Years of life and health for thousands of adults and children. Don’t believe the EPA would deliberately expose innocent kids to neurotoxins? Read about Wheeler’s cynical and fraudulent attack on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Your blood will boil.
Wheeler doesn’t care about kids being exposed to mercury. Their future doesn’t matter because it’s Wheeler’s chosen mission to steal their future. And the worst part is, he knows he’s doing it. He knows the consequences, and he knows that most Americans strongly oppose his actions. He doesn’t care. For Wheeler, it’s all about doing the job, and his boss, unfortunately for all of us, is Donald Trump.
Our climate, our environment, our public lands, and our children are all victims of this larceny, but is there anyone who stands to gain? Yes: Wheeler’s old bosses — fossil fuel corporations and other polluters. Civil penalties paid by polluters have already plummeted under the Trump EPA, but that’s just the beginning. The Associated Press recently analyzed 11 different environmental and safety protections that the Trump administration wants to eliminate. They then used the administration’s own estimates to calculate what the financial benefit to fossil fuel companies would be. The figure they came up with was $11.6 billion.
At least now we know how much Trump and Wheeler think our future is worth. That’s a lot of money, but they’re still selling it cheap.
Andrew Wheeler has no business running an agency with the word “protection” in its name. Please, take a moment, and tell your senators to oppose his nomination!