Just one year ago, Andrew Wheeler worked as one of the coal industry’s most powerful lobbyists, serving as coal baron Bob Murray’s Capitol Hill muscle, challenging environmental regulations and casting doubt on the science behind climate change.
…Pruitt left behind a considerable legacy of halting critical regulations, reshaping the EPA’s science advisory boards and provoking an exodus of talent from the agency that could take decades to reverse. Yet roughly one-third of the regulatory rollbacks Pruitt attempted were halted by legal challenges ― setbacks widely attributed to his brash style and overeagerness to antagonize environmentalists. Still, he proposed some of the most drastic changes to the agency in his final months.
In April he proposed gutting auto emissions standards, which would essentially eliminate the only remaining major federal rule to curb greenhouse gases. Weeks later, he put forward a “transparency” rule that would dramatically limit the public health studies the EPA may use when writing regulations. By June, Pruitt kicked the effort up a notch, issuing a formal notice to solicit ideas on how the agency performs regulatory cost-benefit analyses, in a move widely seen as a giveaway to industry polluters, and proposed a regulation to replace a landmark Obama-era rule protecting drinking water for 117 million Americans
Last year, Wheeler served as a lobbyist for Energy Fuels Resources, a uranium mining company with operations just outside Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Last July, Wheeler and a top executive from the firm met with top Interior Department officials to discuss Bears Ears the same week Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended that President Donald Trump dramatically shrink the monument, according to agency calendars. Pruitt’s flashy efforts to bolster the coal industry came after repeated meetings with Murray, the outspoken mining magnate who runs Murray Energy. Wheeler, by contrast, worked for him until mid-2017, helping deliver the Trump administration a so-called action plan that included a federal bailout of coal-fired plants, the repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and a challenge to the 2009 EPA endangerment finding that determined carbon dioxide pollution poses a risk to public health.