On July 9, Andrew Wheeler became acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, replacing scandal-tarnished and corruption-prone Scott Pruitt. Since then, Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, has maintained Pruitt’s anti-public health, pro-fossil fuels agenda.

On July 17, he drastically weakened an Obama-era rule that required strict monitoring and handling of coal ash, a deadly byproduct of burning coal that often contains toxic heavy metals like lead and mercury and is known to cause cancer and organ damage. Wheeler’s new version of the rule will save his former employers money but will likely cost untold lives. Over 1.5 million Americans live in the catchment areas of coal ash surface impoundments and will be directly imperiled. (For more on coal ash, see Scientific American’s article at goo.gl/5VnDmD).

Distressingly but unsurprisingly, Wheeler’s now working on something even more dangerous. He’s moving ahead with Pruitt’s old effort to ban the EPA from referencing scientific studies that use anonymized public health data. Their claim is that since the data is kept confidential (a legal requirement!) it’s “secret science” and should not be used to inform policy. But confidential public health data is the keystone of a slew of studies evaluating the impact of pollution on human health. Banning the use of these studies would cripple the EPA’s authority to create and enforce regulations curbing pollution, potentially harming millions more Americans.

For the sake of our nation’s future, please sign the League of Conservation Voters’ petition against Wheeler’s science censorship at p2a.co/tvYo0Hy.

Sam Matey