Last week, Scott Pruitt stepped down as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Mr. Pruitt’s tenure at the EPA was marred by controversy. Pruitt was criticized for the way he spent the EPA’s funds, and he was criticized for his housing arrangements. One thing after another finally led the embattled Pruitt to throw in the towel.
Andrew Wheeler will now serve as the acting head of the EPA until President Trump either appoints him to the position or another EPA chief is chosen. Mr. Wheeler is not expected to change the policies put in place by Mr. Pruitt, nor is Mr. Wheeler expected to challenge President Trump’s environmental agenda.
Since taking office, the Trump administration has taken environmental policy in the exact opposite direction from the policies outlined by President Obama. During Mr. Obama’s terms in office, the EPA centered its attention on enforcing clean air and clean water laws. The agency also sought to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In order to do this, Mr. Obama’s policies favored renewable energy sources and sought to limit the use of coal and other non-renewable forms of energy.
One of the major areas of contention within the EPA under Scott Pruitt was the shift away from reducing greenhouse gas emissions and favoring the development of more coal resources. This was in keeping with President Trump’s campaign pledge to support the coal industry.
Andrew Wheeler during his time as EPA Acting Director will be certain not to change the emphasis away from coal. Mr. Wheeler spend a good portion of his career as a lobbyist for those in the coal and mining industries. Mr. Wheeler also worked as the Staff Director for Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma who was viewed with great disfavor by those in the environmental movement.
Andrew Wheeler does not believe that man-made climate change presents much of a problem. He does acknowledge that humans may be contributing to global warming, but he doesn’t view it as something that politicians should be overly concerned about.
During his tenure at the EPA, Scott Pruitt was criticized for listening more to conservative political opinion regarding the environment while ignoring the opinions of those in the scientific community. Mr. Wheeler has stated that he intends to listen to scientists in the EPA, but he has stated that he will also seek the advice of scientists with alternative views.