EPA Acting Administrator Looks To Future Following Pruitt Exit

Administrator Wheeler joins the KDKA Radio Afternoon News in first broadcast interview after taking office

Robert Mangino
July 16, 2018 - 3:25 pm
Andrew Wheeler

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler was in Pennsylvania just a week after taking office following the resignation of former Administrator Scott Pruitt earlier this month.  

Pruitt’s exit came amid scandal and months of ethics controversies and calls for him to step down.

Wheeler was in Canonsburg, Pa. to visit with area officials and energy facilities.

Wheeler told the KDKA Radio Afternoon News that President Trump asked him to clean up the environment while continuing to deregulate when asking him to take over the EPA.

“We’re getting ready to announce our Air Trends report in the next week or so and air pollution is down 74 percent since the 1970s. We can get cleaner air, we can get cleaner water, and deregulate,” Wheeler said in his first broadcast interview since taking office.

“The shale gas industry is innovating constantly and we need to make sure as a regulatory agency that we stay up to date with the innovations going on in the industry so that we can make sure that our regulations are up to date and that we also are not standing in the way of innovation.”

Wheeler was previously confirmed by the Senate, despite outcry from Democrats over the Hamilton, Ohio native’s previous ties to energy lobbyist and climate change deniers. 

Prior to taking the reins at the EPA, Wheeler worked at FaegreBD Consulting and Faegre Baker Daniels law firm. Clients of the firm included Murray Energy, the self-proclaimed “largest coal mining company in America.”

Wheeler is no stranger to environmental policy or Capitol Hill, beginning his career during the George H. W. Bush Administration as a Special Assistant in EPA's Pollution Prevention and Toxics office.

Wheeler also spent time as a Republican staff member for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Committee, the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands and Nuclear Safety, and as top aide to climate change skeptic Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK).

But Wheeler says he believes coal, natural gas and nuclear energy are industries that can continue to thrive without harming the environment.  

“I consider myself to be an environmentalist,” he said. “I’m an Eagle Scout; I was hiking this weekend. I go hiking, I go camping. I’ve been up here rafting at Ohiopyle… I care a lot about the environment.”

He also says he is ready to work with both sides to protect the environment and public health.

“I’ve worked with environmental groups and Democrats a lot over the years, so it’s not going to be an adversarial relationship.”

In a statement on the EPA website, Wheeler says he looks “forward to working hard alongside EPA employees to continue our collective goal of protecting public health and the environment on behalf of the American people.”

Wheeler’s biography states he “has dedicated his career to advancing sound environmental policies.”

He has a bachelor’s degree from George Mason University and a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

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