Who Is Andrew Wheeler, the EPA's New Acting Administrator?

The former coal lobbyist is likely to continue with the Trump administration's efforts to roll back environmental oversight, but with far fewer scandals than his predecessor.
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The Environmental Protection Agency's logo is displayed on a door at its headquarters on March 16th, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, resigned Thursday following months of scandals and intensifying scrutiny. Andrew Wheeler, the EPA's deputy administrator, will take over as acting administrator. "I have no doubt that Andy will continue on with our great and lasting EPA agenda," President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday.

Unlike Pruitt—who was facing several government and agency probes into his service detail, traveling expenses, and housing arrangements, among other things—Wheeler has largely flown under the radar since his confirmation in April. So what do you need to know about the EPA's No. 2 in command?

1. Wheeler Has Lobbied for Several Fossil Fuel Companies

Until last year, Wheeler was a lobbyist for Murray Energy Corporation, the largest coal mining company in the nation, battling the Obama administration's attempts to better regulate pollution from power plants.

2. He Worked for One of the Senate's Top Climate Deniers

Before he was a lobbyist, Wheeler served as a legislative aid to Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), who has called teaching children climate science "brainwashing." But you may remember him best as the senator who brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to showcase the "hysteria" of global warming. When Wheeler's nomination was announced, Inhofe said, "There is no one more qualified than Andrew to help Scott Pruitt restore EPA to its proper size and scope."

3. He's Already Faced Some Scrutiny for Potential Unethical Activities

The Intercept reported in February that Wheeler raised and donated money to some Republican senators in the months before his official nomination.

Overall, the former coal lobbyist is likely to continue on with the Trump administration's efforts to roll back environmental oversight, but with far fewer ethics scandals than his predecessor.

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