Andrew Wheeler Replaces Pruitt, Media Attacks: Coal Lobbyist, ‘Scorched Earth Agenda’

Andrew Wheeler
Alex Edelman/AP

President Trump announced on Twitter on Thursday that he had accepted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resignation and noted that his deputy, Andrew Wheeler, will serve as acting administrator beginning Monday.

Many speak highly of Wheeler and his distinct qualifications for the job, but the media is already attacking him in much the same relentless fashion it did Pruitt, who spoke of it in his resignation letter.

CBS reported Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate environment panel, has praised Wheeler for sound environmental policies and said he “exemplified excellence in his professional endeavors,” both in government and in the private sector.

Chris Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who has known Wheeler for years, told Breitbart News that he is up to the job, especially given his past work at the EPA.

“He knows what the job entails and I’m confident in his abilities,” Horner said.

The New York Times said Wheeler — his critics fear — may do a better job than Pruitt.

“Unlike Mr. Pruitt — who had come to Washington as an outsider and aspiring politician, only to get caught up in a swirl of controversy over his costly first-class travel and security spending — Mr. Wheeler is viewed as a consummate Washington insider who avoids the limelight and has spent years effectively navigating the rules,” the Times reported.

And Wheeler is popular with Republicans, CBS reported:

Republicans earlier this year countered that Wheeler, 53, was well-qualified to lead the agency, having worked at the EPA early in his career and serving as Republican staff chief of the Senate Environment Committee before becoming a lobbyist nine years ago.

But as word of Pruitt’s resignation spread, the media already had its talking points in place.

“Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, was confirmed as Pruitt’s No. 2 in April despite complaints from Democrats that Wheeler helped lead a fight by the coal industry to block regulations that protect Americans’ health and begin to address climate change,” CBS reported.

“The National Resources Defense Council’s magazine onEarth wrote: ‘If you’re hoping Wheeler could represent some sort of departure from Pruitt’s (literal) scorched-earth agenda, he wouldn’t,’” CBS reported.

The Times described Wheeler as “a former coal lobbyist who shares Mr. Pruitt’s zeal to undo environmental regulations.”

And Democrats have already criticized Wheeler in his role as deputy to Pruitt.

“Andrew Wheeler’s coal credentials are without equal. He is, without question, a member of the coal industry’s Hall of Fame,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in April, according to CBS.

“Sadly, I am concerned that Andrew Wheeler’s background means that he will never understand that saving coal is not the job of the EPA,” Market said.

“Like Pruitt, Wheeler has expressed public skepticism about the consensus of climate scientists that the continued burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of global warming,” CBS reported.

How long Wheeler will serve as acting administrator is unclear, but the Times speculated:

It is possible that Mr. Trump could nominate Mr. Wheeler to the top job. However, several other names have also been mentioned as possible successors to Mr. Pruitt, including Donald Van der Vaart, a former senior environmental official in North Carolina. Mr. Pruitt selected him to serve on an E.P.A. scientific advisory board.

Steve Milloy, who served on Trump’s transition team at the EPA, told Breitbart News that Pruitt did a great job advancing the president’s agenda of rolling back dangerous and damaging regulations President Barack Obama put in place, and Wheeler is just as committed as his former boss.

“Same president, same agenda, a new head of the EPA,” Milloy said.

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