Andrew Wheeler, former Murray Energy lobbyist and acting head of the EPA: “[I]f I lobbied on something, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to participate."
Really? Following Scott Pruitt's resignation earlier this month, acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler pledged that he would not be involved in matters related to his previous lobbying. Has he stayed uninvolved? E&E News investigated:
Since Andrew Wheeler was sworn as EPA's second in command on April 20, the lobbying veteran has had at least three meetings with former clients that may have violated the Trump administration's ethics pledge* and other promises he made to steer clear of potential conflicts of interest.
Wheeler — who became acting administrator after Scott Pruitt's July 6 resignation — has also attended other events that prominently included the head of a company he is currently prohibited from getting involved with, according to an E&E News review of public documents.
The string of ethically questionable encounters stand in stark contrast to the acting EPA chief's claims that he is taking pains to avoid helping his former clients advance their interests.
Here's a specific example from Sludge:
Wheeler Finalizes Coal Ash Deregulation He Pushed as a Coal Industry Lobbyist
The article explains:
In his first major action as the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler finalized a revision of coal ash disposal regulations on Wednesday, loosening guidelines put in place by the Obama administration and giving states more flexibility in how they govern the pollutant.
Environmental groups believe the revisions will lead to more pollutants in waterways and drinking water supplies.
“These rules will allow yet more tons of coal ash, containing toxics like arsenic and mercury, to be dumped into unlined leaking pits sitting in groundwater and next to rivers, lakes, and drinking water reservoirs,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
From 2009-2017, prior to joining the EPA, Andrew Wheeler was a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the largest privately owned coal company in the U.S., among other companies. During that time Wheeler lobbied the federal government in support of the deregulatory measures he just finalized at the EPA.
Environmentalists win Mountain Valley Pipeline decision
Just in from the Associated Press:
RICHMOND, Va. — An appeals court has sided with environmental groups who challenged the decision by federal agencies to allow construction of a 300-mile natural gas pipeline that would cut through national forests.
The unanimous ruling Friday by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond cancels permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service allowing the Mountain Valley Pipeline to cut through federal land.
The judges accused the agencies of ignoring environmental regulations and acquiescing to justifications offered by the pipeline company on the project’s environmental impact.
Construction of the pipeline, which would run through Virginia and West Virginia, prompted protests earlier this year including people who climbing into trees on the pipeline’s path and chaining themselves to construction equipment.
*The Trump administration has an ethics pledge? Who knew? (I certainly didn’t.) At first I thought it was a joke but here it is. (I guess that it's a different kind of joke -- one where the joke is on us.) I wonder if there is anyone in the Trump administration who actually follows it?