Just days after Scott Pruitt stepped down as administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), his former deputy Andrew Wheeler met with career staff on Wednesday to lay out his vision for heading the huge bureaucracy that has been mostly hostile toward President Donald Trump’s efforts to undo Obama-era draconian regulations.
Wheeler began by praising the staff and said he understands “the important role” each one plays in ensuring the EPA upholds its mission to protect the public health and the environment.
But he also told them that he planned to continue to build on what Trump and Pruitt have achieved and addressed the criticism that came immediately after the president announced Wheeler would serve as acting administrator, including the oft-repeated “coal lobbyist” label given him by the left and the leftwing media.
“I’m not at all ashamed of the work I did for the coal company,” Wheeler said, adding that his grandfather was a coal miner in West Virginia and his grandmother raised her children in coal camps.
Wheeler said one of the top priorities during his time working at Murray Energy Company — one of the nation’s largest coal companies — was working with Congress for the passage of the Miners Protection Act to provide health and pension benefits for retired miners and their families.
Wheeler shared about the almost two decades he worked at EPA, his work on environmental issues while serving on Senate staff, and his plans now that he’s at the helm — at least temporarily — of the sprawling agency.
Wheeler said President Trump called him last week to ask him to step up after Pruitt’s resignation.
“He told me to do three things: Clean up the air, clean up the water, and provide regulatory relief,” Wheeler said.
“I think we can do all three of these things at the same time,” Wheeler said.
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