President Donald Trump is set to nominate Andrew Wheeler to head the EPA as soon as Tuesday evening, seeking to elevate the former coal lobbyist who has led the agency on an acting basis for six months.
Trump had already signaled the move in November, saying Wheeler has “done a fantastic job” as acting administrator of Environmental Protection Agency following the July 2018 resignation of the agency’s scandal-plagued former chief, Scott Pruitt. The planned announcement was described by a person familiar with the action who asked not to be named discussing a personnel move.
Wheeler, a politically savvy former energy lobbyist and Republican Senate aide, shares Trump’s approach to environmental regulation -- and his commitment to easing Obama administration regulations governing climate change and pollution. But he has moved more methodically than Pruitt to pursue it.
He also has cultivated a relationship with EPA staff, repeatedly invoking his own deep history with the agency in a bid to forge ties with career employees.
Wheeler’s entire professional life has been tethered to the EPA, beginning in 1991, when he was hired for a non-political job focusing on toxic chemicals. After four years working at the EPA under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, he shifted to Capitol Hill, working for Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, including Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe.
After Wheeler left Capitol Hill in 2009, he took on a cadre of lobbying clients, eventually leading FaegreBD Consulting’s energy and environment practice group. His job was dedicated to advocating for chemical manufacturer Celanese Corp., coal producer Murray Energy Corp., uranium miner Energy Fuels Resources Inc., utility holding company Xcel Energy Inc. and other clients.
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