Energy & Environment

Former EPA chief to chair pro-Trump think tank’s environmental center

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, September 14, 2020.

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler will chair the America First Policy Institute’s Center for the Environment, the pro-Trump think tank announced Thursday.

“As we demonstrated during the Trump Administration, it is possible to have a clean environment without imposing government edicts or onerous, job-killing regulations,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Other countries look to the United States for leadership on environmental issues, and we must do a better job of providing that leadership here at home.”

The AFPI said in a statement that its Center for the Environment will develop “policy that couples American innovation with conservation efforts.”

“Andrew understands that American prosperity and environmental policies go hand in hand,” added AFPI president and CEO Brooke Rollins.

“His expertise and experience leading the Environmental Protection Agency provide a unique perspective and background on the best ways to address environmental challenges facing our Nation while simultaneously fostering innovation and ingenuity that leads to a cleaner environment for all.”

Wheeler served as former President Trump’s second EPA administrator from 2019 to 2021 after serving as the agency’s acting head beginning in July 2018. A former lobbyist for the coal producer Murray Energy, Wheeler’s EPA tenure was marked by largely pro-fossil fuel policies, several of which his successor Michael Regan has rolled back.

For example, Regan reinstated a scientific panel composed of experts on air pollution known as particulate matter, which Wheeler disbanded in 2018.

He also announced in June that the EPA would review air quality standards for soot after Wheeler declined to tighten the Obama-era standards. Wheeler defended the existing standards as “protective of public health,” while Regan said it was “important we take a hard look at these standards that haven’t been updated in nine years.”

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