In July, the United States Environmental Protection Agency underwent some turmoil when administrator Scott Pruitt was forced to resign. His deputy, Andrew Wheeler, quickly ascended to the top job at the EPA. From day one, Wheeler has steered his “new EPA” in a bold, new direction.
A Partnership With the Energy Industry
Over his time as the acting head of the EPA, Wheeler has worked tirelessly to reinforce a scientific standard at the agency. He was quick to dismiss a Pruitt-driven initiative that could have enabled the EPA from using potentially valuable science that might inform regulatory strategy. The gesture is one that indicates Wheeler’s complete faith in the oil and gas industry’s resolve in fighting for a cleaner environment without critically damaging the United States economy.
For the first time in history, it seems that the EPA has someone at the helm who understands that the oil and gas industry happily self-regulates without much need for strict government oversight.
A Trip to Pennsylvania Shale Country
On Wednesday, Wheeler stood before an enthusiastic crowd as he touted his agency’s victories and detailed the agency’s plans for the future. Addressing the gathering at Marcellus Shale Coalition’s annual Shale Insight event, Wheeler proclaimed that the EPA initiated 28 “major deregulatory actions” while developing nearly 50 more.
“Our goal is to free you to do what you do best, which is to innovate, create and produce,” Mr. Wheeler said, adding, “You have a new champion in the White House.”
So far, at least, he’s been as good as his word.
Wheeler Isn’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon
The good news is that Wheeler will likely be around to oversee the EPA’s fresh perspective. Though Wheeler has yet to be officially declared as the administrator of the agency, there are some who suggest that the Trump administration will seek to bypass the typical confirmation process. Given the massive politicization of the administration’s previous confirmation battles and the headline-grabbing mud flung at Trump’s candidates, it’s entirely possible to see that decision as a means to focus on the job at hand rather than waste time and energy fighting with the opposing party.
Either way, Andrew Wheeler seems enthusiastic about his position, whether or not the (rather meaningless) qualifier “acting” is attached to his name or not. Here’s to two more years of aggressive reforms within the agency.