WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s acting chief mentioned on Wednesday he would push to lower rules on business and velocity up choices on permits, echoing the insurance policies of former head Scott Pruitt who stepped down final week.
Andrew Wheeler, a longtime Washington insider, took the reins on Monday after Pruitt, a former lawyer common from Oklahoma, resigned over greater than a dozen ethics controversies.
Unlike Pruitt, Wheeler has been recognized to shun the highlight. But some environmentalists say his expertise means he can carry out Trump’s coverage of slashing rules extra successfully.
Wheeler mentioned President Donald Trump talked to him final week and requested him to present regulatory aid to business whereas defending air and water high quality. “I think we can do all three of those things at the same time,” Wheeler mentioned in his first tackle to EPA workers.
Environmentalists have complained that the EPA beneath Trump has labored to reverse Obama period limits on air pollution.
Wheeler labored on the EPA within the 1990s and later within the Senate beneath Senator Jim Inhofe, a skeptic of mainstream local weather science, earlier than shifting to the non-public sector as a lobbyist and marketing consultant. He mentioned that he was “not at all ashamed” of more moderen lobbying for the coal firm Murray Energy Corp, the main focus of criticism by environmentalists.
His prime difficulty in work for Murray was the Miners Protection Act, shoring up pension and healthcare advantages for United Mine Worker retirees, mentioned Wheeler, whose grandfather was a coal miner throughout the Great Depression.
Robert Murray, the corporate’s chief government, has pressured the Trump administration to ease rules on mining.
Wheeler additionally lobbied for vitality pursuits together with utility Xcel Energy Inc, Bears Head LNG. He additionally consulted for biofuels business group Growth Energy, agricultural service provider and biofuels producer Archer Daniels Midland, and International Paper, in accordance to his public monetary disclosures.
The EPA will prioritize cleansing up industrial Superfund websites and financing investments in water infrastructure, Wheeler mentioned, persevering with Pruitt’s aim of bringing the company “back to basics.”
Wheeler additionally pledged to velocity up allowing, setting a aim of issuing choices on all permits earlier than the company in six months. He mentioned this may ease uncertainty for small companies.
NO WORD ON GLIDERS
Left unmentioned was Pruitt’s last transfer on the company to undo guidelines on refurbished vehicles referred to as “gliders,” which environmentalists say generate as a lot as 40 instances the air pollution of recent engines.
Like Pruitt, Wheeler believes the EPA within the earlier administration of Barack Obama overstepped federal clear air regulation by issuing guidelines to lower greenhouse fuel emissions.
Wheeler, who had been confirmed by the Senate to function Pruitt’s deputy, will cope with points together with changing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, necessities of biofuels blended into gasoline and diesel, and whether or not the EPA chief has a task in selling U.S. fossil-fuel exports.
On Monday, after strain from business for regulatory certainty, the EPA despatched a rule to scale back greenhouse emissions from energy crops to the White House’s workplace of Management and Budget for evaluation. It is anticipated to be extra business pleasant than the Clean Power Plan. The EPA will open the rule to public remark after the OMB critiques it.
It shouldn’t be but recognized if Trump will nominate Wheeler to exchange Pruitt completely, if he does, the Senate would once more have to verify him.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; modifying by Peter Cooney and Tom Brown