Andrew Wheeler, the man set to take over the Environmental Protection Agency after the departure of Administrator Scott Pruitt, is already receiving media criticism before he begins his job.
Steven Mufson captured the nature of most of the stories for the Washington Post.
He called Wheeler “an appealing alternative for those hoping to continue to roll back key EPA policies,” who has “spent a decade lobbying for just the sort of companies the agency regulates.”
“Even if Wheeler ends up recusing himself from specific EPA decisions, his record as a lobbyist suggests his views might not differ much from those of President Trump.” Few EPA administrators’ views differ much from the president who appointed them.
The Post story offered one supportive quote – Trump saying, “I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda. We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!”
By contrast, it offered several critical quotes from a former Democratic Party staffer on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a few from the managing director for government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council and one from Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
NBC News’ website headlined its story, “Wheeler won’t be any better for environment, green groups say,” with a subhead that read, “The Environmental Working Group deemed Pruitt ‘the worst head of the agency in its 48-year history.’”
“Green groups cheered the resignation Thursday of Scott Pruitt, saying the Environmental Protection Agency administrator’s multiple ethical lapses and pro-polluter tilt made him unsuitable for the nation’s highest environmental post,” the story began.
“But the activists doubted that the departure, announced by President Trump via Twitter, would change the administration’s policies. The EPA will now be led by an interim chief, Andrew Wheeler, who was a coal industry lobbyist before he was confirmed as Pruitt’s deputy in April.”
Pruitt not only was the “worst head of the agency in its 48-year history,” NBC quoted the Environmental Working Group as saying, but he also “will forever be associated with extraordinary ethical corruption and the abuse of power for petty personal enrichments.
“Sadly, the ideological fervor with which Pruitt pursued the destruction of environmental regulations and the agency itself live on in the Trump administration”
The Sierra Club “seconded the notion that Pruitt was the worst EPA boss ever.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council “also bashed the outgoing official.”
“But environmental groups chafed at Pruitt’s actions, particularly his support of fossil fuel industries, like coal,” NBC concluded. “Scientists have reached a consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is a major creator of so-called greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, that are warming the Earth and setting the stage for a cascading set of other challenges, like rising sea levels, droughts and wildfires.”
No quotes in support of Wheeler were offered other than those by the president.
He’s not an outsider – the Union of Concerned Scientists fears him more than it did Pruitt because his experience from having worked at the agency makes him “a formidable opponent with intimate knowledge of the agency’s programs and regulations.”
He also has close ties to the coal industry from lobbying and has the black mark of having worked for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., “one of Washington’s most prominent climate change denialists.”
Finally, it revealed Wheeler had criticized the president back during the campaign, calling him a “bully” questioning his character and saying Trump had “more baggage than all of the other Republican candidates combined.”
But then, it wrote, “When the Post asked Wheeler in 2017 about his previous comments, Wheeler told the paper his post had been based on watching the primary debates and news coverage. When he started looking into Trump’s policies, Wheeler said, ‘I was fully on board.’”