Andrew Wheeler

Andrew Wheeler



Andrew R. Wheeler, a lawyer and former coal industry lobbyist, is the 15th Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was approved to head the EPA on February 28, 2019. [2], [55]

Wheeler became Acting Administrator to the EPA following Scott Pruitt’s resignation in July 2018. In February 2019, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee first approved Wheeler’s nomination to be permanent administrator of the EPA. A final senate vote of 52 to 47 solidified him in the position. Previously, he was a principal at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting where he was co-leader of the firm’s energy and natural resource practice. [2], [40], [48], [54]

In 2017, President Donald Trump first picked Wheeler for deputy chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler was fully confirmed on April 12, 2018 as the number two official at the Environmental Protection Agency. His confirmation happened amid ethics controversies surrounding former EPA administrator Scott Prutt[3]

Wheeler was one of several former staffers of climate change denier James Inhofe to join the EPA. Prior to joining FaegreBD Consulting, Wheeler worked as majority staff director, minority staff director and chief counsel at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for Inhofe. He worked in a similar vein at the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands and Nuclear Safety under the chairmanship of Inhofe and also that of George Voinovich. Before that, he worked as Inhofe’s chief counsel from 1995 to 1997. [2]

Under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Wheeler spent four years as a staffer at the EPA‘s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics before moving on to his position at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. [4]

Until mid-2017, Wheeler lobbied on behalf of Murray Energy, the nation’s largest privately owned coal company. Run by vocal climate change denier Robert Murray, the energy company has fought against industry regulation and climate change mitigation efforts. According to EcoWatch, Wheeler brought in at least $3 million in income for his firm from Murray Energy. [5], [6], [7]

Murray Energy, while Wheeler’s client, produced an “Action Plan” for the Trump Administration including complete elimination of the Clean Power Plan, overturning the endangerment finding for greenhouse gases, and eliminating tax credits for wind and solar energy. In his confirmation hearing, Wheeler admitted to having seen the plan. [8]

According to his profile at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, Wheeler “worked on every major piece of environmental and energy-related legislation over the last decade, including greenhouse gas emissions legislation, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, the Clear Skies Act and the Clean Air Interstate Rule.” The consulting firm also notes that Wheeler has worked on 1998 and 2005 Highway Bill reauthorizations, the Diesel Emissions Reduction SEP Bill, and Renewable Fuel Standards. His regulatory work includes “all major fuel related issues including Refinery MACT, Gasoline sulfur, and the NSPS program.” [2]

Andrew Wheeler’s nomination is very much in keeping with the Trump administration’s agenda of fossil fuel exploitation and climate inaction,” Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University told HuffPost. “The environmental community’s celebration of the failed nomination of climate-change denier Kathleen Hartnett-White to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality may be short-lived.” [9]

Murray Energy’s Record

While Wheeler worked as a lobbyist for Murray Energy, the company was faced with a range of controversies. The company paid millions in fines for contaminating water in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania with coal slurry. For example, Murray Energy was accused of contaminating the Captina Creek in Ohio four times since 2000, paying more than $1 million in fines the Columbus Dispatch reported. [33]

The Crandall Canyon Mine was owned by a subsidiary of Murray Energy. The mine’s collapse in 2007 led to the death of six miners. A Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) report said the mine was “destined to fail.” MSHA itself was also faulted by its parent agency for lax oversight and its handling of the rescue effort. [34]

Murray Energy subsidiary Genwal Resources eventually pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for wilfully violating safety laws and was fined $500,000. Loved ones of those affected by the disaster felt the damages were not enough, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Genwal Resources eventually reached a $1.1 million settlement with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration over the 20078 collapse, while from the begginning Bob Murray insisted that the cave-in had been triggered by a natural earthquake and that the company was not to blame. [36], [37]

Murray Energy has consistently fought against regulations focused on clean air and combatting climate change. In 2017, The New Yorker wrote that Murray Energy partnered with Scott Pruitt, signing as a co-plantiff in 14 of the lawsuits that Pruitt had filed against the EPA including one involving the Clean Power Plan. [36]

“There is little doubt that one of the ‘important partnerships’ Pruitt had in mind was with Murray Energy. His current second-in-command at the E.P.A., Andrew Wheeler, was a lobbyist for the company until mid-August, and when Pruitt was attorney general of Oklahoma, Murray was a top donor to his super PAC. The C.E.O. was also a co-plaintiff in eight of the fourteen lawsuits that Pruitt brought against the E.P.A. before Trump put him in charge of the agency,” The New Yorker wrote. [35]

Coal Club VP

While working at Faegre Baker Daniels, Andrew Wheeler served as vice president of the Washington Coal Club. The group’s 2016 tax filing 2016 listed Wheeler as the group’s president at that time. As of 2017 he was no longer listed. The last available internet archive of his profile at Faegre BD Consulting (April 13, 2018) listed Wheeler as the group’s vice president. [42], [43], [2]

According to a LinkedIn summary by the group’s president, Rick Axthelm, The Washington Coal Club is a “District of Columbia non-profit corporation, that meets monthly with knowledgeable speakers to discuss coal and industry related topics. The Club’s membership consists of over 300 individuals with diverse interests in coal, ranging from coal producers and transporters, associations focused on coal’s role in the American economy, academics involved in coal-related research, and policy makers from both the executive and legislative branches of government.” [44]

A 2014 information brochure listed Faegre BD Consulting as a “Gold Sponsor” of the Washington Coal Club ($1,200 annually). Other sponsors at that level included Arch Coal, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). [45]


Wheeler has worked as a lobbyist for FaegreBD Consulting since 2009, where he has worked on behalf of clients including Murray Energy. Public lobbying records show that he worked for Murray from 2009 until 2017. He has lobbied both the House of Representatives and the Senate on “general energy and environmental issues.” [28]

According to a search of public lobbying disclosures, Wheeler has had the following clients: [10]

  • Bear Head LNG Corporation
  • Celanese Corporation
  • Coalition for Domestic Medical Isotope Supply
  • Darling International Inc.
  • Domestic Fuel Solutions Group
  • *Energy Fuels Resources Inc.
  • Enterprises Swanco LLC
  • ICOR International
  • Insurance Auto Auctions, Inc.
  • KAR Holdings
  • Murray Energy
  • Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Sargento Foods Inc.
  • South Coast Air Quality Management District
  • Underwriters Laboratories
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • Xcel Energy

*According to emails obtained in 2019 via Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, Wheeler used his connections to the Trump campaign to arrange a meeting between an executive from uranium mining company Energy Fuels Resources and a senior adviser to then-Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. Shortly thereafter, on Zinke’s recommendation, President Donald Trump reduced the boundaries of Utah’s Bears Ears national monument, freeing up more than 100 uranium claims held by Energy Fuels Resources from potential regulatory obstacles. [56]

In a March 27, 2017 email to a Zinke aid, Wheeler wrote:

I worked on energy and environmental policy for Mr. Trump during the campaign. I have a client that I would like to get before the Secretary, Energy Fuels. […] They have two uranium facilities bordering each side of Bears Ears national monument in Utah. They can come to DC at any time.” [56]

Wheeler, who was employed by lobbying firm Faegre Baker Daniels at the time, attended the April 5 meeting at Interior with Energy Fuels Resources executive William Goranson, fellow FBD lobbyist Darrin Munoz, and a senior adviser to Secretary Zinke. An Interior spokesperson claimed that Zinke did not attend the meeting himself, although his schedule at the time has him unaccounted for. [56]

Wheeler’s contacts with Interior and his attendance at the meeting were not disclosed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. [56]

Lobbying Income (For FaegreBD Consulting, on Behalf of Murray Energy)

Via public lobbying disclosures: [10]

Filing DateLobbying IssueIncome Reported
2017 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2017 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2016 (Q4)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2016 (Q3)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2016 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2016 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2015 (Q4)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2015 (Q3)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2015 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2015 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2014 (Q4)General energy and environmental issues$75,000
2014 (Q3)General energy and environmental issues$50,000
2014 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$50,000
2014 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$50,000
2013 (Q4)General energy and environmental issues$50,000
2013 (Q3)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2013 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2013 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2012 (Q4)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2012 (Q3)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2012 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$90,000
2012 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$90,000
2011 (Q4)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2011 (Q3)General energy and environmental issues$100,000
2011 (Q2)General energy and environmental issues$150,000
2011 (Q1)General energy and environmental issues$150,000
2010 (Q4)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$150,000
2010 (Q3)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$131,000
2010 (Q2)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$139,000
2010 (Q1)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$139,000
2009 (Q4)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$60,000
2009 (Q3)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$60,000
2009 (Q2)Lobby on H.R. 2454 American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009$40,000

Stance on Climate Change

April 11, 2019

Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Wheeler said: [57]

“I said before I took this job that I believe in climate change and man has an impact on climate change. But I believe the number one issue facing our planet today is water. I’ve been saying that for a number of years. I said that at a climate conference at MIT back in the early 2000s. It wasn’t well received then and it’s not always well received now. But it’s the truth.”

November 8, 2017

I believe that man has an impact on the climate, but what’s not completely understood is what the impact is,” Wheeler said during his confirmation hearing when asked about the findings of the most recent climate report. [9]

Key Quotes

June 19, 2019

Commenting on the Trump administration’s replacement of Obama-era carbon reduction regulations with the new “Affordable Clean Energy” rule, Wheeler told the New York Times:: [58]

“I don’t know who is going to invest in a new coal fired power plant, but we’re leveling the playing field to allow that investment to occur.” [58]

April 11, 2019

Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Wheeler said: [57]

“The previous administration focused all their energies on one issue and that was climate change. You take a look at the website that we are accused of taking all the climate change information off the website. We didn’t. It’s on there, it’s archived, but it’s on there. But that’s not the only environmental issue the world faces. I do fear that because so many people only talked about climate change, you’re right, there could very well be a new generation coming up saying that’s the only environmental issue. And it’s not.” [57]

July 6, 2018

Wheeler said in an interview with the The Washington Post: [41]

“I’m not going to criticize my predecessor in any way. But I will answer by saying this: I cut my teeth as a career employee here at the EPA in the early 90s working on the Community Right-to-Know Act. And I believe that my time on the Hill and in the legislation I worked on — how I addressed all statutes, how I addressed all laws — was that the more information we make available to the American public, the more transparency we have, the better our decisions will be. The more open we are, the better it is for everyone.

That’s how I cut my teeth on environmental law. And that’s been part of my core beliefs in the agency and how I look at environmental issues. The more transparent we are, the better understood our decisions will be.”

October 9, 2017

In an interview, Wheeler explained how he went from criticizing Donald Trump as a “bully” to being “fully on board” with his campaign: [11]

I was just looking at the debates and what I saw on the news, and I hadn’t focused on what he was saying, and when I started looking into what he was saying and what his campaign and what his candidacy was about, I was fully on board.” [11]

Referring to a May 2016 speech where Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris climate accord and undo the Waters of the United States rule, Wheeler said “A lot of my friends in the Republican energy and environment field here in D.C. were impressed with that speech.” [11]

February 29, 2016

Wheeler wrote a now-deleted Facebook post skeptical of Donald Trump’s character and viability as a presidential candidate. He described Trump as a “bully” who “hasn’t been that successful,” The Washington Post reported: [12]

November 15, 2016

Shortly before the November 2016 election, Wheeler wrote at Law360: [30]

“No single environmental issue will be impacted by the change in administration more than climate policy.”

February 5, 2016

In a discussion at a coal industry conference, Wheeler opposed Holly Bender, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. He joined Jason Hayes, associate director of the American Coal Council: [13]

“You can’t have reliable electricity, affordable, reliable electricity, without baseload generation,” Wheeler said. “What the Sierra Club proposes for wind and solar, that’s not baseload. We don’t have the battery capacity yet to deliver solar and wind as baseload generation. You end up having middle-income, lower-income families with electricity rates wildly variable.”

November 11, 2015

Following President Barack Obama’s rejection of the TransCanada Keystone pipeline application, Wheeler told Politico: [14]

“The environmental organizations are going to be emboldened by this and going to go after more projects. On the industry side, they’re going to have to step it up. People are going to take [a] step back and reassess what went wrong and what they could have done differently. Anybody representing any energy or infrastructure project is going to have to take a look at the tactics. Do you politicize it more or try to take politics out of it?”

January 2011

Wheeler commented that a coalition was needed to fight against clean air regulations proposed by the EPA: [15]

“Up until now, EPA and the environmentalists have pretty much had the bully pulpit in terms of explaining why they think these regulations are good and necessary,” Wheeler said. “Oversight hearings that dive into the economics and the impacts of the regulations are needed to explain the negative side to the public and the rank-and-file members of Congress. They need to better understand the regulations before they start trying to pass legislation.”

March 1, 2010

In an article claiming the UN‘s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be investigated, Wheeler declared: [16]

“The UN IPCC has blurred the lines between science and advocacy to the point where they are unable to separate situational awareness from proposed remedies. They have been advocating for specific policy actions and ignoring the original charter of informing the public on the state of science. […]”

March 1, 2005

In an interview with E&E News, Wheeler said: [27]

“We don’t think a [carbon emissions] registry would be that good of a program because we don’t believe that we’ll ever be at a stage where we have a mandatory CO2 program in this country.”

March 2005

“It doesn’t really make sense to just set a new cap [on pollution from power plants] without taking away some of the regulatory burdens so that industry can pick whatever technology that they need in order to reach those reduction targets in the time we give them,” Wheeler said, E&E News reported. [31]

Key Deeds

April 2019

Wheeler was interviewed by Reuters to discuss issues ranging “from climate science to automobile emissions and biofuels policies.” View the interview transcript via The New York Times. [57]

Responding to the EPA‘s decision to revoke California’s ability to have its own standards on CO2 emssions, and the state’s decision to sue the EPA, Wheeler said “In my mind this is so much more about politics in the state of California than it is protecting the environment.” [57]

On electric vehicles: [57]

REUTERS: “Do you think that the Obama administration was trying to disfavor fossil fuels and favor EVs?”

WHEELER: “Oh absolutely. The only way you could comply ultimately with Obama numbers is to have 30 percent electric vehicles and that’s not what American consumers are buying. Right now we’re…2 percent electric vehicles. I don’t think this country is going to turn the fleet over to get to 30 percent electric vehicles by 2025. I just don’t think that’s possible. “

Wheeler responded to criticism that he has been making changes on behalf of the oil industry: [57]

REUTERS: Some of the critics say, ‘Hey you’re doing this for the oil industry,’…Because oil consumption will go up.

WHEELER: I have not met with a single oil company over CAFE standards since I’ve been in this job. […] We’re not doing it for the oil industry, that’s the extent of conversations I’ve had with the oil industry on our CAFE proposals. It wasn’t immediate in my mind why they like it but this is nothing to do with the oil industry. We’re not doing it for the oil industry, I’m not doing it for the oil industry.

Reuters asked Wheeler about the record increases in CO2 emissions, and studies that found emissions would rise under proposed regulations: [57]

REUTERS: “Co2 emissions have gone up by the largest amount in eight years. According to some studies, Co2 emissions would go up under your proposed ACE (Affordable Clean Energy Rule). This would suggest stronger regulation is needed. What do you define as strong regulation?”

WHEELER: “Strong regulation is legal regulation. The CPP (Clean Power Plan)… I get accused of rolling back the CPP by environmentalists and Democrats on the Hill. My simple answer to that is you can’t roll back a regulation that never went into effect. […] I believe we are on a course of getting meaningful Co2 reduction. I think that’s the responsible thing for a regulatory agency to do.”

He responded to an EPA report that found more stringent actions would be needed to address climate change: [57]

REUTERS: “EPA scientists recently published a report looking at the impacts of climate change across 22 sectors and said early adaption could reduce its worst impacts. Some of your scientists internally continue to believe more stringent action is needed to address climate change. You have said in a hearing that climate change is not the greatest problem facing us right now. Do you trust your internal scientists?”

WHEELER: “I trust my internal scientists. I trust my career scientists. That study is not an EPA study. We encourage our scientists, we have some of the leading scientists in the world working on a number of environmental issues. We encourage our scientists to publish. But just because our scientists publish something in a journal doesn’t mean that that’s agency policy or all the other scientists at the agency agree with that particular study. […] But I have had several briefings from our career scientists on climate change and asked questions about climate change and that informs the decisions that I make. I can’t just look at the science in a vacuum. We are not a science academy making proclamations about science. We are a regulatory agency.”

February 2019

Wheeler was approved to become the 15th Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with a final vote of 52 to 47 on February 28, 2019. [55]

On February 5, Andrew Wheeler was initially approved to take over as permanent head of the Environmental Protection Agency pending the full Senate vote. The Senate Environment and Public Works committee approved his initial nomination 11-10. [54]

Trump said in November that he intended to nominate Wheeler to lead the EPA, saying he had done a “fantastic job” in his interim role, The Washington Post reported. [55]

One Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, voted against Wheeler’s confirmation on February 28:

I believe that Mr. Wheeler, unlike Scott Pruitt, understands the mission of the EPA and acts in accordance with ethical standards; however, the policies he has supported as Acting Administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health, particularly given the threat of climate change to our nation,” Collins said in a statement.  [55]

Democratic senator Joe Manchin III who serves on the the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had voted to confirm Wheeler as deputy administrator the prior year, however opposed him in 2019 given Wheelers actions:  [55]

As Acting Administrator, he hasn’t demonstrated a desire or a will to make any meaningful progress on clean drinking water standards and has rolled back clean air standards that are directly impacting West Virginians,” Manchin said in a statement.  [55]

January 31, 2019

Wheeler appointed eight new members to the EPA‘s Science Advisory Board, including professor John Christy, who has consistently argued against the scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change, and Richard Williams, a scholar at the Koch-funded Mercatus Center. [53]

In making these appointments, Wheeler said:

Members who will be appointed or reappointed include experts from a wide variety of scientific disciplines who reflect the geographic diversity needed to represent all ten EPA regions.” [53]

December 27, 2018

Wheeler signed an EPA proposal that would cut federal rules regulating mercury under the Obama administration. The changes to regulations would use a cost-benefit analysis that ignores or plays down numerous health effects, The New York Times reported, while making it “much more difficult for the government to justify environmental regulations in many cases,” according to Robert N. Stavins, a professor of environmental economics at Harvard University. [50]

The Obama administration had calculated that the original rule would prevent 11,000 premature deaths due to reducing particulate matter linked to respiratory and heart diseases and calculated $80 billion in health benefits per year. In contrast, the Trump administration calculated benefits of the original mercury rule at $4 million to $6 million annually and the benefit of removing the pollution controls at $7.4 billion to $9.6 billion annually. [50]

We don’t answer to the utility industry,” Wheeler said. “We don’t answer to the coal industry. We answer to Congress and the courts, and the Supreme Court told us we didn’t get it right. We have to redo it. I’m going to follow the law, and I’m going to follow the Supreme Court.”[50]

In a statement, the EPA claimed the cost of preventing mercury emissions from power plants “dwarfs” the monetary benefit and that the limits are not justified as “appropriate and necessary” under the law. The rollback of the mercury rule was among changes specifically requested by coal baron Robert E. Murray shortly after Trump took office. [51], [52]

December 4, 2018

The EPA was sued in U.S. District Court for failing to disclose public records that would reveal if Wheeler was in contact with his former employer, a lobbying firm employed by the fossil fuel industry, while acting as EPA Administrator. [49]

The lawsuit was filed in Washington D.C. by The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, who had filed FOIA requests for the records in the Spring of 2018. [49]

Faegre Baker Daniels, a law firm for whom Wheeler lobbied on behalf of the fossil fuel industry before joining the EPA, is suspected of having contact with Wheeler’s office during his tenure leading the agency. In confirmation testimony before the U.S. Senate, Wheeler pledged to avoid conflicts of interest with former business associates. [49]

July 26, 2018

E&E News reported that since being sworn in April as Deputy Administrator to the EPA, working under Scott Pruitt, Wheeler had at least three meetings with former clients that “may have violated the Trump administration’s ethics pledge and other promises he made to steer clear of potential conflicts of interest.” [46]

On June 26, the day before an interview with Bloomberg News where Wheeler said, “If I lobbied on something, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to participate,” he had met with former client Darling Ingredients. The client had given Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting over $1.4 million over nine years—more than any other of the firm’s clients except for Murray Energy. [46]

Wheeler’s public calendar also indicated meetings with Archer Daniels Midland Co. and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, two other former clients. The Trump administration ethics pledge Wheeler signed upon taking office reads as follows: [46]

“I will not for a period of two years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients.” [46]

In a statement to HuffPost, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) suggested an ethics probe should be launched to investigate. [47]

As a former coal lobbyist, and as the successor to scandal-tarred Scott Pruitt, Andrew Wheeler should know better than to break his ethics pledge,” he said. “If these reports are true, he did so repeatedly. This is a matter which the Office of Government Ethics should examine.”

April 12, 2018

Wheeler was confirmed as deputy administrator of the EPA. He was confirmed 54-45, The Washington Post reported. [17]

It is critically important that the public understand Wheeler’s career as a lobbyist for some of the worst actors in the energy industry,” Keith Gaby, a spokesman for the Environmental Defense Fund, said in an email. “Andrew Wheeler running EPA would go far beyond having an administrator overly influenced by lobbyists — the head of EPA would be an energy industry lobbyist.”

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters, sent an open letter to members of the Senate: [17]

“Andrew Wheeler’s inherent conflicts of interest from his long history of ties to the fossil fuel industry make him an entirely inappropriate choice for EPA’s number two leadership role,” Karpinski said.

Shortly before Wheeler was confirmed, prominent climate change denier and former Trump transition team member Myron Ebell praised Trump’s choice: [18]

“Andrew Wheeler is a great choice to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” Ebell said in a statement. “He has the experience and the expertise necessary to manage the agency and to make sure that the reforms undertaken by Administrator Pruitt will be fully implemented.”

The Sierra Club released a statement strongly opposing Wheeler’s nomination. [19]

Wheeler was not only a key D.C. advocate for the coal industry, but also a former aide for outspoken climate-denying senator James Inhofe,” Matthew Gravatt, Sierra Club’s associate legislative director, said in a statement. 

Environmental groups have worried that if Scott Pruitt, following a range of scandals, were fired or stepped down from his position as EPA Administrator, then Wheeler could prove even more destructive to environmental regulations. Politico described the possibility of Wheeler becoming EPA administrator as a paradox for environmental groups. [38]

Wheeler is much smarter and will try to keep his efforts under the radar in implementing Trump’s destructive agenda,” said Jeremy Symons, vice president for political affairs at the Environmental Defense Fund. “That should scare anyone who breathes.” [38]

Another individual who has worked with Wheeler said ““He’s like Mike Pence is to Trump. … He’s behind the scenes. He’ll get a lot done and doesn’t need to be in the news.” [38]

November 8, 2017

Andrew Wheeler appeared alongside Kathleen Hartnett-White at the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for their nomination hearing; Hartnett-White for Member of the Council on Environmental Quality and Wheeler for Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. [20]

Huffpost reported that Wheeler “appeared poised and polished at his Senate confirmation hearing” in contrast to Hartnett-White, who was “stammering over questions of basic science.” [9]

Andrew will bring extraordinary credentials to EPA that will greatly assist the Agency as we work to implement our agenda,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said when Wheeler was nominated in October. “He has spent his entire career working to improve environmental outcomes for Americans across the country and understands the importance of providing regularity certainty for our country.” [4]

During the hearing, Wheeler admitted to having seen a copy of the “action plan” that Robert Murray had provided to Trump in January to revive the coal industry. “I did not work on that [plan] or have a copy of that memo,” Wheeler said. “I saw it briefly at the beginning of year but don’t have possession of it. I looked at it.” [21]

May 2017

According to documents The Intercept and the watchdog group Documented obtained and reported on in 2018, Wheeler hosted campaign fundraisers for Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works senators John Barrasso and Jim Inhofe in May.  FEC records show that the senators also received donations from Wheeler’s law firm’s PAC in 2017. The Intercept reported that those same senators would decide on his appointment at the EPA in 2018. [22]

March 29, 2017

Shortly after he worked for the Trump transition team, Wheeler attended a attended a meeting between Murray’s chief executive, Robert Murray, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Photos of the event showed Wheeler sitting just one seat away from Robert Murray at the table, with Perry listening intently. [23]

“Murray asked Perry to increase payments to coal and nuclear plants supplying electricity to the Midwest and Appalachia. Perry tried to implement such a plan, but independent electricity regulators rejected it,” The Washington Post reported[17]

Wheeler said he attended the meeting on behalf of Murray Energy, however denied direct involvement in the DOE‘s rule creation: [21]

I have not been involved in anything the last few months when this issue has been front and center,” he said.

As CNN reported, photographer Simon Edelman claimed he was fired from his job at the Energy Department after he released the photos. [24]

“Mr. Edelman exercised his First Amendment rights and shared some of his public domain photographs with our free press … in retaliation for exercising his First Amendment rights, Mr. Edelman … was unlawfully terminated from his job effective Dec. 27, 2017,” John Napier Tye, founder of Whistleblower Aid, wrote in a letter to the Energy Department’s acting inspector general.

June 2016

Wheeler attended a closed-door fundraising dinner hosted by Robert Murray where Donald Trump spoke. Wheeler later described the meeting as the point that he was swayed by Trump and decided to join the Trump campaign as a volunteer energy and environmental policy consultant: [25]

It was about a 40-minute energy speech that [Trump] gave,” Wheeler told The Post. “He didn’t use notes. He didn’t use a teleprompter. I really thought it was the most comprehensive energy speech by a presidential candidate I had ever heard,” Wheeler told The Washington Post[11]

I didn’t talk to a lot of people about being on the campaigns,” Wheeler added. [11]

February 2016

Wheeler attended a coal industry conference where Murray Energy Corp’s CEO and founder Robert Murray criticized the Obama administration. [13]

Wheeler joined a discussion with Jason Hayes, associate director of the American Coal Council, and Holly Bender, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. [13]

“We’ve never seen one industry under siege by so many different regulations from so many different federal agencies at one time,” Wheeler said. “This is unprecedented. Nobody has ever faced this in the history of the regulatory agenda.” [13]

November 13, 2014

Wheeler described the Paris climate agreement as a “sweetheart deal” for China, E&E News reported: [29]

“It’s kind of unilateral disarmament with China,” said Wheeler, working as a lobbyist with Faegre BD Consulting. “They want to make sure they have competitive advantage on the price of electricity for manufacturing goods. So they’re trying to enter into these negotiations with Western countries to make sure that our energy prices stay higher than theirs.”

March 2013

Wheeler offered help to clients to write in comments on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). According to the Faegre Baker Daniels website, “RFS stakeholders are strongly encouraged to review the committee white paper and submit comments on the questions and topics raised.  […] For more information, questions, or for assistance in drafting and submitting comments please contact Andrew Wheeler, Andy Ehrlich, or Joshua Andrews. Comments are due April 29, 2013.” [“Stakeholder Input Sought on Second Renewable Fuel Standard White Paper,” Faegre Baker Daniels, April 23, 2013. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:]

January 2005

While working as an aide for Senator James Inhofe, Wheeler was accused of abusing his power to target his political opponents. In 2005, he worked with Inhofe to demand tax records from the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials and its sister group, State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators (STAPPA) after the groups had opposed an emission bill supported by Inhofe. [26]

In February 2018, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government accountability and transparency watchdog, told HuffPost the tax probe “raises serious concerns as to Wheeler’s judgment.” [26]

In a March 1, 2005 interview with E&E News, Wheeler had claimed the requests weren’t politically motivated: [27]

STAPPA receives apparently … most if not all of their funding from the U.S. taxpayers,” Wheeler said. “That is part of our legitimate oversight activities on grant oversight. It has nothing at all to do with Clear Skies.”

Bill Becker, former executive director of STAPPA for 37 years, said that the tax probe was not ordinary protocol for filings request, and said it  “was meant for no other purpose than to intimidate and retaliate for positions … against their bill.”[26]

It was merely a fact-finding witch hunt against our association, with the hope that they could find something and use that against us to temper what we said,” Becker told HuffPost. “They treated us at the time in a mean-spirited, political way for merely questioning a policy.”

E&E News reported in February 2005 that in addition to the request for tax records, Inhofe asked officials from STAPPA and ALAPCO for written answers on opposing positions to the Clear Skies initiative. “In hindsight, Wheeler said it was a mistake to mix the two written requests together. But he added, ‘The information is not being used by our air team. There’s no retaliation from their testimony.’” [32]

Wheeler later suggested that Inhofe’s investigation of STAPPA and ALAPCO was part of a larger one looking at the annual receipts of around 200 discretionary EPA grants. He questioned STAPPA and ALAPCO‘s motivations for talking to the media about the request, suggesting their goal was to end the investigation. [32]


Wheeler reportedly attended a visit to Yucca Mountain, Nevada funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). NEI paid for 74 senators to tour the proposed site for a proposed nuclear waste repository. The total cost to NEI was $18,421 Public Citizen press release noted, “but that high price may have helped solidify the votes they were targeting with these trips.” Of those who attended, 85% voted to end a filibuster of S.104 and 95% voted for H.R. 1270, together known as the Nuclear Waste Policy act of 1997. [39]

Las Vegas hotel and casino perks for Congress are not doled out to improve democracy, but to provide the nuclear lobby greater access to Congress,” said Auke Piersma, energy policy analyst with Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project. “It seems clear that the trips are used to reward the nuclear industry’s Congressional friends and toss perks to those who are undecided.” [39]

The NEI reportedly sent Wheeler on two trips. “Not only, did Mr. Wheeler enjoy a junket to Las Vegas, but during the Jazz Festival In New Orleans, he ‘found facts’ at the Waterford nuclear reactor. More ‘Yacts” were likely found at the four star Westin Canal Place Hotel in the French Quarter, offering a heated roof top pool, complete health club facilities, and marble bath” Public Citizen wrote. [39]


  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA Administrator. Former acting administrator (appointed July 5, 2018). Former deputy administrator (confirmed April 12, 2018). Special Assistant (1991 – 1995). [55][48][54][1]
  • FaegreBD Consulting — Principal. [1]
  • Murray Energy — Former Lobbyist, as recently as 2017. [5] 
  • Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — Minority/Majority Staff Director and Chief Counsel (2003 – 2009). [1]
  • U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands, and Nuclear Safety — Subcommittee Staff Director. (1997  2003). [1]
  • US Senator Jim Inhofe — Chief Counsel (1995 – 1997). [1]
  • Washington Coal Club — Former vice president, and former president as of 2016. No longer listed in 2017. [2][43]
  • National Energy Resources Organization — Chairman. [2]

Social Media


Wheeler’s profile at Faegre Baker Daniels lists a range of his published articles and media mentions such as:

Media Mentions


  1. Andrew Wheeler,” LinkedIn. Accessed April 12, 2018. Archived pdf on file at DeSmog.
  2. Andrew R. Wheeler,” Faegre Baker Daniels. Archived April 13, 2018. URL
  3. Former Inhofe aide Wheeler confirmed as EPA‘s No. 2,” CNN, April 12, 2018. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  4. Andrew Wheeler Nominated as EPA Deputy Administrator,” EPA, October 5, 2017. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  5. Lobbying Report for B&D Consulting, April 11, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  6. Trump to name coal lobbyist as deputy EPA chief: report,” The Hill, March 16, 2017. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  7. Keith Gaby. “This Coal Lobbyist Could Head the EPA, and He May Be Worse Than Pruitt,” EcoWatch, April 11, 2018. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  8. Murray Energy’s ‘Action Plan’ for the Trump Administration,” The New York Times, January 9, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  9. Alexander C. Kaufman. “Trump’s Climate-Denying Coal Lobbyist Nominee Inches Closer To EPA’s No. 2 Job,” HuffPost, February 6, 2018. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  10. Past Filings Search, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Peformed April 12, 2018.
  11. The Energy 202: Trump’s energy policies have endeared him to establishment Republicans,” The Washington Post, October 9, 2017. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  12. Dino Grandoni. “This coal lobbyist once wrote Trump was a ‘bully.’ Now he’s the nominee for EPA’s No. 2 spot,” The Washington Post, October 7, 2017. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  13. Taylor Kuykendall. “Sierra Club takes invite to industry event to talk future of coal, reliability,” SNL, February 5, 2016. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  14. Isaac Arnsdorf. “Chevron hires Sidley Austin,” Politico, November 9, 2015. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  15. Andrew Wheeler Says Coalition Needed for Legislation on Air Regulations,” Faegre Baker Daniels, January 7, 2011. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  16. Andrew Wheeler Explains Why IPCC Must Be Investigated,” Faegre Baker Daniels, March 1, 2010. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  17. Senate confirms a former coal lobbyist as Scott Pruitt’s second-in-command at EPA,” The Washington Post, April 12, 2018. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  18. Chris White. “Ex-Trump Official Goes To Bat For Coal Lobbyist-Turned EPA Deputy Nominee,” The Daily Caller, April 12, 2018. Archived April 12, 2018. URL:
  19. Wheeler and Hartnett-White Are Dangers to The Truth, Our Clean Air and Water, and The Climate,” Sierra Club, November 8, 2017. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  20. Hearing on the Nominations of Kathleen Hartnett White to be a Member of the Council on Environmental Quality and Andrew Wheeler to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, November 8, 2017. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  21. Trump’s choice for No. 2 at EPA admitted he saw coal baron’s action plan to dismantle agency,” ThinkProgress, November 8, 2017. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  22. Coal Lobbyist Hosted Fundraisers for Senators Evaluating His Nomination for Top EPA Post,” The Intercept, February 7, 2018. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  23. Exclusive Photos Contradict Murray Energy CEO’s Claim He Had ‘Nothing To Do with’ Rick Perry’s Coal Bailout,” InTheseTimes, December 6, 2017. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  24. Saba Hamedy. “Fired photographer who leaked photo of Rick Perry hugging coal executive wants his job back,” CNN, January 17, 2018. URL:
  25. Donald Trump Heads for Coal Industry Fundraiser in West Virginia,” Time, June 28, 2016. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  26. Trump Pick For EPA’s No. 2 Accused Of Abusing Power To ‘Bully’ And ‘Intimidate’ Opponents,” HuffPost, February 13, 2018. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  27. EPW Committee staff director Wheeler discusses prospects for ‘Clear Skies’ bill,” E&E News, March 1, 2005. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  28. Lobbying Report: Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, Q2 2017.
  29. U.S.-China climate deal will create some stormy political weather,” E&E News, November 13, 2014. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  30. What To Expect From Trump’s Environmental Policies,” Law360, November 15, 2016. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  31. Inhofe postpones Clear Skies markup until Thursday,E&E News, March 2, 2005. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  32. Darren Samuelsohn. “Inhofe aide refutes Clear Skies intimidation charge,” E&E News, February 24, 2005. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  33. EPA, coal company argue over waste plan,” The Columbus Dispatch, July 16, 2012. URL:
  34. Associated Press. “Year after mine collapse, many failures clear,”, August 6, 2008. Archived April 13, 2018. URL
  35. There’s a Dangerous Bubble in the Fossil-Fuel Economy, and the Trump Administration Is Making It Worse,” The New Yorker, October 19, 2017. URL:
  36. Crandall Canyon: Fines don’t satisfy families of mine disaster victims,” The Salt Lake Tribune, March 10, 2012. Archived April 13, 2018. URL:
  37. Associated Press. “Crandall Canyon Mine operator to pay nearly $1M in fines,” Deseret News, September 27, 2012. Archived April 13, 2018. URL
  38. Eric Wolff. “The man who could replace Scott Pruitt,” Politico, May 5, 2018. Archived May 9, 2018. URL:
  39. nuclear power_all_3_001.pdf” Document collection archived at Greenpeace Investigations.
  40. EPA leader Scott Pruitt out after numerous scandals,” CNBC, July 5, 2018. Archived July 5, 2018. URL
  41. Incoming EPA chief: ‘This is the right job for me.’” The Washington Post, July 6, 2018. Archived July 9, 2018. URL:
  42. Soo Rin Kim. “Who is Andrew Wheeler, the ex-coal lobbyist who will become the acting administrator of the EPA?ABC News, July 5, 2018. Archived July 10, 2018. URL:
  43. Full text of ‘Form 990-EZ‘ for fiscal year ending Dec. 2016,” ProPublica. Accessed July 10, 2018. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.
  44. Rick Axthelm,” LinkedIn. Accessed July 10, 2018.
  45. Information Brochure: Washington Coal Club,”
  46. Corbin Hiar. “Despite his assurances, Wheeler met with former clients,” E&E News, July 26, 2018. Archived July 29, 2018. URL:
  47. Alexander C. Kaufman. “New EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler Faces First Call For Ethics Probe After Less Than A Month,” HuffPost, July 26, 2018. Archived July 29, 2018. Archive URL:
  48. EPA‘s Acting Administrator, Archived August 23, 2018.
  49. Press Release. “EPA Sued for Records of Andrew Wheeler Meetings With Oil Lobbyists,” The Center for Biological Diversity and Friends of the Earth, December 4, 2018. Archived December 4, 2018. URL:
  50. Lisa Friedman. “New E.P.A. Plan Could Free Coal Plants to Release More Mercury Into the Air,” The New York Times, December 28, 2018. URL:
  51. (Press Release). “EPA Releases Proposal to Revise MATS Supplemental Cost Finding and ‘Risk and Technology Review’,EPA, December 28, 2018. Archived December 29, 2018. URL:
  52. Lisa Friedman. “How a Coal Baron’s Wish List Became President Trump’s To-Do List,” The New York Times, January 9, 2018. Archived December 28, 2018. URL:
  53. Timothy Cama. “EPA puts climate change skeptic, conservative think tank scholar on science board,” The Hill, January 31, 2019. Archived February 1, 2019. URL
  54. Josh Siegel. “Senate committee approves former lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to succeed Scott Pruitt at EPA,” Washington Examiner, February 5, 2019. Archived February 5, 2019. URL:
  55. Andrew Wheeler, former energy lobbyist, confirmed as nation’s top environmental official,” The Washington Post, February 28, 2019. Archived February 28, 2019. URL:
  56. Jacob Holzman. “Seeking to shrink Bears Ears, uranium firm met with Interior before review,” Roll Call, March 4, 2019. Archived March 4, 2019. URL:
  57. Text: Transcript of Reuters Interview With EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler,” The New York Times, April 11, 2019. URL:
  58. Lisa Friedman. “E.P.A. Finalizes Its Plan to Replace Obama-Era Climate Rules,” The New York Times, June 19, 2019. Archived June 20, 2019. URL:

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