President Donald Trump tapped former coal industry lobbyist Andrew R. Wheeler to be deputy administrator of the EPA, according to reports.
Wheeler works as a principle of the Washington, D.C. law firm Faegre Baker Daniels’ energy and natural resources practice. Coal miner Murray Energy Corp. and uranium miner Energy Fuels Resources have been among the firm’s clients. Wheeler was a registered lobbyist until August.
Wheeler has also worked for the EPA toxics office and for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), former chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and prominent climate change skeptic.
Upon Senate confirmation, Wheeler would work under EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Inhofe‘s office said Wheeler would serve with exceptional skill.
“I am pleased that President Trump has nominated Andrew Wheeler to serve as deputy administrator at the EPA. There is no one more qualified than Andrew to help Scott Pruitt restore EPA to its proper size and scope,” according to a statement from Inhofe’s office.
Reaction from environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, has been less warm.
“Halloween apparently came early this October because the nomination of Andrew Wheeler as Deputy EPA Administrator is absolutely horrifying. There actually could not have been a worse choice for this highly influential position that is charged with protecting the health and communities of Americans across the nation,” according to a statement by the Sierra Club.