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Trump’s EPA chief Andrew Wheeler shortlisted for Virginia’s best environmental post

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Trump’s EPA chief Andrew Wheeler shortlisted for Virginia’s best environmental post

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New Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (right) has chosen Andrew Wheeler, the controversial head of the Donald Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency and former coal lobbyist, to be his natural resources secretary.

In a statement announcing the Cabinet choice, Youngkin said Wheeler shares his vision to “find new ways to innovate and use our natural resources to provide Virginia with a stable, reliable and growing power supply that will meet the demands. electricity supply without passing costs on to the consumer. “

“Virginia needs a diverse energy portfolio to fuel our economic growth, the continued preservation of our natural resources and a comprehensive plan to combat sea level rise,” Youngkin said.

Wheeler was a key figure in the Trump administration’s deregulation agenda, overturning many environmental rules in favor of polluting industries, and has a long history of downplaying the threat of climate change. Shortly after being confirmed as head of the EPA in 2019, for example, Wheeler falsely claimed that “most of the threats from climate change are in 50 to 75 years.”

Wheeler has been on Youngkin’s transition team since November. News of his appointment as secretary, which Politico first took reported Wednesday drew a swift reaction from State Democrats and environmental groups.

“As head of the EPA under former President Trump, Wheeler did nothing more than respond to the interests of repeatedly polluting companies, putting their well-being ahead of our environment and the health of Americans. “, Michael Town, executive director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. , said in a statement. “This is by far the most extreme nomination for an environmental position in Virginia history and the absolute worst choice the governor-elect could ever make.”

US Representative Don Beyer (D-Va.) Called Wheeler an “anti-environmental ideologue” and “one of the worst people the governor-elect could have chosen for this post.”

“He led the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle environmental protections, sell off the American people and the very mission of the EPA for the benefit of polluting companies,” Beyer said in a statement.

Beyer noted Wheeler’s silence following the Jan.6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol. As HuffPost previously reported, Wheeler wrote in an email to agency staff the day after Trump supporters violently stormed the Capitol that he was “completely disgusted” by the event, but that he planned to stay with the EPA until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. He did not publicly condemn the attack.

Unlike other Trump officials who resigned in the wake of the insurgency, Wheeler “stood by Trump and refused to criticize him,” Beyer said.

It remains to be seen whether Wheeler’s appointment can survive the confirmation process. Democrats hold a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate.

“I know he’s new to the Virginia government and everything but @GlennYoungkin understands cabinet secretaries need General Assembly approval, right?” State Senator Scott A. Surovell (D-Fairfax) wrote on Twitter.

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