Ex-EPA workers ask Virginia senators not to confirm Wheeler

Ex-EPA staff ask Virginia senators to not verify Wheeler

RICHMOND, Va. – Greater than 150 former Environmental Safety Company workers urged the Virginia Senate on Friday to oppose the nomination of former EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler to GOP Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s cupboard.

Youngkin introduced final week that he had chosen Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who led the EPA in the course of the latter years of the Trump administration, to function Virginia’s secretary of pure assets, an analogous state-level position. The announcement sparked a right away backlash from the state’s conservation neighborhood, and lots of Democratic state senators have publicly introduced their opposition.

Ex-EPA officers who labored beneath each Republican and Democratic administrations detailed their considerations to the Democrat-led chamber within the sharply worded letter, which was first shared with The Related Press.


“As EPA Administrator, Mr. Wheeler pursued an extremist method, methodically weakening EPA’s means to guard public well being and the setting, as a substitute favoring polluters. Mr. Wheeler additionally sidelined science on the company, ignored each company and out of doors specialists, rolled again guidelines to chop greenhouse gases and shield the local weather, and took steps to hamstring EPA and sluggish efforts to set the company again heading in the right direction after he left workplace,” they wrote.

Youngkin’s workers didn’t instantly reply to a request from the AP for remark from Wheeler or the governor-elect.

The 158 signatories on the letter embrace two deputy EPA directors and two former directors of EPA’s mid-Atlantic area, of which Virginia is a component. One of many former regional directors was appointed throughout Republican President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Three former administrators of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board signed on, as did assistant directors, attorneys, scientists and different rank-and-file workers.


Wheeler labored on the EPA’s Air pollution Prevention and Toxics workplace early in his profession. He then labored from 1995 to 2009 as a staffer for Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a fervent denier of synthetic local weather change, and for the Senate Setting and Public Works Committee, earlier than changing into a lobbyist.

His shopper record included Murray Power, one of many nation’s largest coal mining firms.

He took over the EPA job after President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of embattled administrator Scott Pruitt, who had been dogged by scandals that spawned federal and congressional investigations.

The EPA beneath Trump typically moved to delegate a variety of public well being and environmental enforcement to states and roll again protections put into place beneath President Barack Obama.


Whereas Wheeler was within the prime job, the Trump administration ordered a sweeping about-face on Obama-era efforts to combat local weather change, shifting to ease restrictions on coal-fired energy crops. EPA additionally moved to revoke California’s authority to set auto mileage requirements and dropped an Obama-era regulation opposed by builders and farmers that shielded many U.S. wetlands and streams from air pollution.

“By our deregulatory actions, the Trump administration has confirmed that burdensome federal rules usually are not essential to drive environmental progress,” Wheeler instructed lawmakers in 2019.


The previous EPA workers warned that Wheeler would “considerably undermine the progress that Virginia’s legislature has not too long ago made to advance clear vitality and deal with local weather change.”

In addition they famous that Christine Todd Whitman, a former EPA administrator and Republican governor of New Jersey writing in a Washington Submit opinion piece, warned Congress in 2019 to not verify Wheeler to the EPA publish.

In Virginia, cupboard secretaries are topic to affirmation by the state Home, now managed by the GOP, and Senate. The method is normally pretty perfunctory, with the approval of the governor’s selections seen as a courtesy absent main controversies. If Senate Democrats stay unified, their 21-19 majority might finish Wheeler’s nomination, even with out help from their Republican colleagues.


Christopher Zarba, a former director of EPA’s Science Advisory Board workers workplace, is amongst these urging senators to vote in opposition to Wheeler. He instructed the AP that he was used to accommodating the approaches of political appointees throughout his 38 years at EPA as a scientist and supervisor, however he mentioned “atrocities on science” had been dedicated beneath Pruitt and Wheeler.

“There was broad recognition that the earlier administration, and Andrew Wheeler being a part of that, there was broad catering to particular pursuits at the price of high quality science and public well being,” Zarba mentioned.

Penelope Fenner-Crisp, a former deputy director within the Workplace of Pesticide Applications and a longtime Virginia resident, was the driving pressure behind the letter. She mentioned greater than 150 folks signed on inside two days after she used a mailing record of EPA alumni to flow into it, specializing in individuals who reside in Virginia or the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

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