Andrew Wheeler, the current interim director of the Environmental Protection Agency, should not be confirmed to fill the vacancy left by the departure of embattled EPA director Scott Pruitt.

Wheeler has a history of working for the interests of major polluters (namely, the coal lobby), which he became involved with after leaving his position as an aide in Washington to Sen. Jim Inhofe (a famous climate denier). Anyone with a basic understanding of the role of coal-fired power plants in anthropogenic climate change and its impact on air quality with regards to public health will agree that he is unfit to serve as head of the EPA.

The United States cannot afford to continue working against Sustainable Development Goal 13 set by the United Nations, which seeks to limit anthropogenic climate change to 1.5 degrees to 2 degrees Celsius warming worldwide. A U.N. panel recently concluded that we have less than 12 years left to limit the planet to 1 to 1.5 degrees of warming by the century’s end – and we can only do that by drastically cutting fossil fuel emissions and converting our grid structure to support renewable energy, not natural gas and coal.

Wheeler has demonstrated he is not well-versed in climate science, stating in a hearing that the effects of man-made climate change are still not well understood enough to warrant meaningful action. The agency needs to be overseen by an individual or individuals with experience in the fields of environmental and public policy, science and law, not those who have devoted their lives to rolling back environmental regulations at the expense of public health.

Matthew Porter


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