Despite President Donald Trump and the Republican Party's legislative struggles, one agency under the Trump administration has quietly made aggressive efforts to efficiently enact its pro-business, anti-science, deregulation agenda — the Environmental Protection Agency.Trump is expected to nominate top coal industry lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler, to be the deputy administrator of the EPA, according to Axios.
Wheeler, currently a principal at the firm Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, is a lobbyist for the coal giant Murray Energy. Robert Murray is the CEO of Murray Energy and "is close" with Trump, Axios reported. Murray also recently filed a defamation lawsuit against John Oliver, for a segment on his show that was highly critical of the coal company and its practices.
Once nominated, Wheeler would assume the number two position in the agency, which is led by Scott Pruitt, pending a confirmation from the Senate. Wheeler also served as a top aide to Sen. James Inhofe R-Okla., who is a notorious denier of climate change, Axios reported.
Pruitt also plans to pick three conservatives that would lead "key divisions within the agency," according to the Washington Post. "Trump will nominate Bill Wehrum as associate administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, Matt Leopold to serve as EPA general counsel and David Ross as assistant administrator for Office of Water," the Post reported.
Since Pruitt has been confirmed, the agency has rapidly made sweeping changes. The EPA has recently fired five scientists that sat on the agency's Board of Science Counselors and replaced them with fossil fuel industry insiders. Along with massive budget cuts, there are also plans to eliminate at least 8 percent of the workforce by September, which means the agency will attempt to buyout roughly 1,200 employees. While things have generally been slow in Washington under the Trump administration, the EPA is in the midst of receiving a potentially devastating overhaul.