Trump Officially Nominates Andrew Wheeler to Head the EPA

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
trump officially nominates andrew wheeler to head the epa

President Donald Trump nominated Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, setting him up to permanently fill a position he’s already occupied since July.

Trump praised Wheeler in November his “fantastic job” as acting administrator of the EPA following the July 2018 resignation of the agency’s former scandal-ridden head, Scott Pruitt. This month, the president submitted Wheeler’s formal nomination to the Senate. There’s still a ways to go before the ex-lobbyist’s confirmation, though, as the Senate will no doubt be critical of his relatively recent ties to the coal industry.

Of course, attempting to think of an independent government agency that doesn’t have a former lobbyist or corporate executive sitting at the head of its table leads to the conclusion that Wheeler will probably do just fine.

According to Bloomberg, Wheeler said he was “honored and grateful” for the nomination. “For me, there is no greater responsibility than protecting human health and the environment,” he said in an emailed statement. “I look forward to carrying out this essential task on behalf of the American public.”

Wheeler, who spent time as a Republican Senate aide in addition to his energy lobbying duties, clearly responds to Trump’s take on environmental regulation. He also backed many of Pruitt’s more controversial attempts to ease the glut of Obama-era regulations governing pollution that came shortly before the Trump administration took office. However, he’s also been more careful to avoid unwanted scrutiny and slower to play his hand.

Still, we expect more of the same from Wheeler, who’ll likely promote industrial and economic health before environmentalism. He’s already proposed lowering emission mandates for coal-fired power plants, openly backed glider trucks before coming down on them, and appears ready to support Trump’s attempt to rollback Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for automakers — albeit much more cautiously than his predecessor.

As a result, Wheeler is unlikely to prove popular with Democrats and is sure to be downright despised by environmentalists. But it’s not a cut and dried issue. The EPA’s acting head has been extremely critical of President Trump in the past. He also isn’t the kind of drain-the-swamp outsider the president promised, which could annoy the voter base.

Presently, the United States is doing rather well in terms of pollution. The U.S. has managed to lower its pollution index by a significant margin since 2008, faring better than much of Europe at the end of 2018. But there are miles to go before the nation can start lecturing Finland on how to be kinder to Mother Earth and air quality improvements have been gradually slowing since the early 1990s. Don’t anticipate that will change under Wheeler, who will be focused firmly on the business side of the environment after the government shutdown ends and he gains Congressional approval.

[Images: AvidInsight/ Wikimedia ( CC BY-SA 3.0); USEPA]

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  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 13, 2019

    Wheeler's past as a lobbyist for the coal industry doesn't make him tainted in any way. Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Wall Street insider Joseph P. Kennedy as the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and JPK did the job he was expected to do, outlawing all the underhanded practices he knew about (and that made him rich). Of course, FDR dangled the possibility of an ambassadorship as reward for cleaning up Wall Street, but the job got done. Wheeler knows how the system works and what needs to be done to clean it up. Unlike Kennedy's mere Commision chairmanship, Wheeler has the prestige of a full Cabinet position, so he's already got the payoff to cap his career.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 13, 2019

    All my comments yesterday and today are "awaiting moderation". Where are the moderators? Did they take the weekend off? Have they been furloughed? Is this the end of TTAC, killed off by a software glitch nobody can fix?

  • Keith Maybe my market's different. but 4.5k whack. Plus mods like his are just donations for the next owner. I'd consider driving it as a fun but practical yet disposable work/airport car if it was priced right. Some VAG's (yep, even Audis) are capable, long lasting reliable cars despite what the haters preach. I can't lie I've done the same as this guy: I had a decently clean 4 Runner V8 with about the same miles- I put it up for sale around the same price as the lower mile examples. I heard crickets chirp until I dropped the price. Folks just don't want NYC cab miles.
  • Max So GM will be making TESLAS in the future. YEA They really shouldn’t be taking cues from Elon musk. Tesla is just about to be over.
  • Malcolm It's not that commenters attack Tesla, musk has brought it on the company. The delivery of the first semi was half loaded in 70 degree weather hauling potato chips for frito lay. No company underutilizes their loads like this. Musk shouted at the world "look at us". Freightliners e-cascads has been delivering loads for 6-8 months before Tesla delivered one semi. What commenters are asking "What's the actual usable range when in say Leadville when its blowing snow and -20F outside with a full trailer?
  • Funky D I despise Google for a whole host of reasons. So why on earth would I willing spend a large amount of $ on a car that will force Google spyware on me.The only connectivity to the world I will put up with is through my phone, which at least gives me the option of turning it off or disconnecting it from the car should I choose to.No CarPlay, no sale.
  • William I think it's important to understand the factors that made GM as big as it once was and would like to be today. Let's roll back to 1965, or even before that. GM was the biggest of the Big Three. It's main competition was Ford and Chrysler, as well as it's own 5 brands competing with themselves. The import competition was all but non existent. Volkswagen was the most popular imported cars at the time. So GM had its successful 5 brands, and very little competition compared to today's market. GM was big, huge in fact. It was diversified into many other lines of business, from trains to information data processing (EDS). Again GM was huge. But being huge didn't make it better. There are many examples of GM not building the best cars they could, it's no surprise that they were building cars to maximize their profits, not to be the best built cars on the road, the closest brand to achieve that status was Cadillac. Anyone who owned a Cadillac knew it could have been a much higher level of quality than it was. It had a higher level of engineering and design features compared to it's competition. But as my Godfather used to say "how good is good?" Being as good as your competitors, isn't being as good as you could be. So, today GM does not hold 50% of the automotive market as it once did, and because of a multitude of reasons it never will again. No matter how much it improves it's quality, market value and dealer network, based on competition alone it can't have a 50% market share again. It has only 3 of its original 5 brands, and there are too many strong competitors taking pieces of the market share. So that says it's playing in a different game, therfore there's a whole new normal to use as a baseline than before. GM has to continue downsizing to fit into today's market. It can still be big, but in a different game and scale. The new normal will never be the same scale it once was as compared to the now "worlds" automotive industry. Just like how the US railroad industry had to reinvent its self to meet the changing transportation industry, and IBM has had to reinvent its self to play in the ever changing Information Technology industry it finds it's self in. IBM was once the industry leader, now it has to scale it's self down to remain in the industry it created. GM is in the same place that the railroads, IBM and other big companies like AT&T and Standard Oil have found themselves in. It seems like being the industry leader is always followed by having to reinvent it's self to just remain viable. It's part of the business cycle. GM, it's time you accept your fate, not dead, but not huge either.