Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on Friday that Green New Deal activists do not want American ‘energy domination.’
Wheeler told Breitbart News about how he plans to enact President Donald Trump’s policy of “energy dominance” as the newly confirmed leader of the agency.
The Senate confirmed Wheeler as the next leader of the environmental agency Thursday, and he has continued to undo former President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda as acting administrator.
Wheeler told Breitbart News that he plans to continue slashing agency regulations and restore certainty to the American public.
“First of all, when the president asked me to take on this new role, he asked me to continue to clean up the air, to clean up the water, continue to deregulate and help job growth. We can do all three; the president knows that we can do all three, and we are doing all three. One of the main cornerstones of what I’m trying to accomplish is providing more certainty to the American public, and that’s certainty on regulations, certainty on how the EPA operates, permits, enforcement actions, and certainty on how we communicate risk to the American public,” Wheeler said.
“We have a very full agenda moving forward on a number of things with deregulatory items and replacement regulation, we just last week put in the federal register our Waters of the U.S. regulation [WOTUS] that replaced the Obama proposal. For the first time ever, we’re drawing distinctions between federal waterways and state waterways,” the EPA executive continued. “My overarching goal is for property owners, whether you’re a farmer, rancher, developer, homeowner, you should be able to stand on your property and be able to tell whether or not you have a federal waterway on your property. You don’t need to hire an outside consultant or an outside lawyer, so we want to make sure the rules are very clear and concise and easy to understand, properties shouldn’t have to hire somebody because there’s water on their property.”
Last August, the EPA announced that it will roll back the Obama EPA’s onerous gas mileage standards. The Obama-era standard mandated that automobiles sold by car companies have to reach 50 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025. Under the Trump administration’s new proposal, cars and light-duty trucks would only have to average 37 mpg by 2026.
In February, the Trump administration withdrew talks with California to negotiate the state’s auto emissions waiver. During the Obama administration, the EPA granted California a state waiver that allows it to enact stricter gas emissions standards. Wheeler said that the EPA will move forward with its light-touch proposal, which he contended will reduce the price of a car by $2,300 and save roughly a million lives.
“We were hoping to work something out with California, but it just didn’t take place. We are moving forward with our own regulation; it’s going to reduce the price of a new car by about $2,300. Right now, people are holding on to their cars longer,” the EPA chief said. “The average lifespan for a car is about 12 years; it used to be about eight years. The older cars are less safe, less environmentally friendly, so by getting the older cars off, by reducing the price of a car, hopefully more people will buy newer cars, safer cars that will also save lives. I believe the number is that a million lives will be saved by this proposal as opposed to the Obama proposal, and we get there by reducing the cost of a new car. And we’re still reducing pollutants at the same time.”
The EPA leader then chided Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) Green New Deal. The Green New Deal proposed that to combat climate change, leaders should get rid of farting cows and plane travel. Ocasio-Cortez also suggested that Americans should also eat fewer hamburgers.
Wheeler suggested that by getting rid of fossil fuels through the Green New Deal, America will have a substantially less reliable electric grid, which might endanger Americans should the power grid go offline.
The EPA chief explained, “When I looked at it, I thought it was not ready for prime time. There wasn’t enough detail or explanation; there was a lot of contradictory things. The one thing that really struck me as the administrator of the EPA, is that it does not value a reliable electricity grid; a reliable electricity grid is important for all Americans because we need it for everything we do in life every day. For a public health side, we need to make sure that we have safe drinking water; we need a reliable electrical grid in order to power the drinking water system around the country, and they don’t value that. When there’s a hurricane, when we go in, EPA is one of the first responders to go into a hurricane area; one of the first things, we try to make sure that the electric grid is up and running and has power for the drinking water systems.”
“The interesting aspect for the Green New Deal is that, in addition with doing away with aviation, in addition with doing away with cows, and it basically does away with the internal combustion engine—the engine that powers our cars—within ten years,” Wheeler added.
Wheeler remarked that, by getting rid of ethanol with the Green New Deal, 2020 presidential candidates such as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) might risk their political future in the Midwest push to eliminate fossil fuels.
“Ethanol is huge in Iowa, and half a dozen presidential candidates have endorsed the Green New Deal; if they enact the Green New Deal, it’s going be very interesting to say when they get to Iowa and how they justify that,” Wheeler said.
The mainstream media, leftists, and other environmental activists have voraciously attacked the EPA during Trump’s administration. Wheeler credits the media attacks largely due to the agency’s success in unraveling Obama’s climate agenda.
“We are moving forward, we are being successful, and there are some people that don’t want us to be successful, people who support the Green New Deal, people who don’t want the ‘energy domination’ we’re having. You know, the natural gas we produce, the coal, the oil that we produced this year that we’re exporting is more environmentally-conscious mining of those fossil fuels than anywhere else in the world,” Wheeler said. “Our natural gas resources are much cleaner than any other natural gas being drilled in Russia, for example. So, if another country wants to buy fossil fuel on the open market, they should look to the United States; we do everything in a much more environmentally conscious manner than anyone else.”
Wheeler then remarked about some of the EPA’s greatest successes over the last two years, which included repealing the WOTUS rule, which regulated many waterways as small as a puddle in a person’s backyard, and replacing Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) with a light-touch proposal.
“We’ve done a pretty good job of repealing some of the onerous Obama regulations such as the Waters of the U.S. and the Clean Power Plan. But we’re also moving forward to making sure that the water is cleaner and that the air is cleaner. So we’re doing both at the same time,” Wheeler said.
The administrator noted that, since the EPA’s creation, the agency reduced pollution by nearly 75 percent, which he said that many environmentalists often fail to note.
Wheeler concluded, “There are six criteria air pollutants in the Clean Air Act; from the 1970s to today, the six criteria air pollutants have been reduced by 73 percent. Most environmentalists don’t talk about that; I don’t know why they don’t talk about that — our air is 73 percent cleaner compared to the 1970s. We have the safest drinking water of any country in the world, and they don’t talk about that either. It boggles the mind why they don’t acknowledge the good steps that we have taken and continue to take.”
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.