Wheeler’s fingerprints are all over the very worst environmental proposals of the Trump Administration.
He has proven, first as Deputy EPA Administrator under Scott Pruitt, and then as Acting Administrator, that he has:
- NO interest in protecting people’s health and safety;
- NO interest in putting us on a path to climate safety;
- NO interest in reining in toxic chemicals or harmful air pollution.
Wheeler was for many years a lobbyist for the coal industry—and it’s clear from his actions that corporate polluters are his first priority. EPA fines for polluters have dropped 85% under Trump’s administration.
Wheeler has been undermining health protections at a rapid clip. Wheeler is:
- Attacking the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for coal-fired power plants. Finalized in 2011, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards reduce mercury, arsenic, acid gases, and fine particulates from coal plants—saving tens of thousands of lives and protecting children from exposure to harmful mercury, a potent neurotoxin. Wheeler’s proposal attacks this life-saving protection. What’s really strange here? Even the utilities don’t want the mercury standard changed!
Proposing a rollback of existing Clean Car Standards that would lead to billions of tons more climate pollution and cost Americans hundreds of billions of dollars at the gas pump.
Attacking America’s Clean Power Plan—America’s first limits on carbon pollution from power plants—by proposing to replace it with a program that would increase pollution from power plants. EPA’s own analysis of the proposal indicates that by 2030 it would increase carbon pollution from the power sector by over 100 million metric tons per year and result in as many as 1,600 premature deaths annually as compared to the Clean Power Plan. This threatens our children’s health and future—and keeps our weather on steroids.
Trying to dramatically weaken existing oil and gas methane pollution standards. EPA’s proposal would, according to the agency’s own analysis, significantly increase dangerous methane emissions from oil and gas operations. Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas—far more powerful in the short term than carbon.
Proposing weakened carbon pollution standards for new, modified, and reconstructed power plants. This proposal calls for a significant weakening of the carbon pollution standards for new coal-fired power plants that are now in effect. The proposal aims to make it easier to build dirty power plants.
Proposing to delay implementation of the agency’s 2016 emissions guidelines for municipal landfills—almost a year and a half after state plans addressing landfill gas emissions were already due—further delaying the already long-overdue emission reductions from this sector, which is the nation’s third largest source of methane and also a source of hazardous air pollutants and harmful smog-forming pollution.
Crippling implementation and enforcement of a major chemical safety law that passed with bipartisan support. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act orders EPA to review and ban toxic chemicals. EPA has staffed up with chemical industry representatives who have done nothing to make us safer—but a lot to help the industry.
Undermining the science foundation of particulate air quality standards. Wheeler disbanded EPA’s independent particulate matter review panel. This panel, which was comprised of 20 leading experts in the field, was supposed to help EPA review the latest science on particulate pollution in order to inform air quality standards. Without this panel, EPA lacks the expertise needed to set health-protective standards.
Undermining the science foundation of smog air quality standards. Wheeler also has proposed to shortchange several important portions of the science-based review cycle for National Ambient Air Quality Standards for smog, a powerful lung irritant that causes asthma attacks and increases respiratory infections.
Weakening coal ash storage requirements. The new rule delays closure deadlines, allowing some existing coal ash ponds to continue accepting more coal ash and stay open longer.