Sierra Club Statement: Wheeler is nothing more than Scott Pruitt with a new coat of lead paint


Lauren Lantry, 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing to examine the nomination of Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to be EPA Administrator.

During questioning, Wheeler claimed to be working to decrease climate emissions however, Harvard research shows that Trump and Wheeler’s climate plan would increase climate emissions. Wheeler was asked repeatedly to defend his rollbacks of the Clean Car Standards, Clean Power Plan, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), and methane pollution safeguards.

  • Enforcement: Under Wheeler, EPA hit a 30-year low in 2018 in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution.

  • MATS: During Trump’s government shutdown, Wheeler used EPA’s final hours of staff time before they were furloughed to attack the MATS. These protections prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths a year, help avoid as many as 130,000 asthma attacks and keep deadly neurotoxins that impair children’s brain development out of our air and water.

  • Clean Car Standards: Under Wheeler’s leadership, the EPA proposed reversing what was the single most effective strategy we had to reduce GHG emissions -- the clean car standards.

  • Clean Power Plan: Wheeler proposed gutting and replacing the Clean Power Plan.  While the Clean Power Plan would prevent 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 asthma attacks every year by 2030, EPA’s own analysis shows Wheeler’s replacement plan by allowing more pollution from coal-fired power plants could kill up to 1,600 people every year and is linked to lung disease, asthma, and more.  

  • Methane: Wheeler released a proposal to weaken key safeguards limiting emissions of methane and other harmful pollutants from the oil and gas industry. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide during the time it remains in the atmosphere.

In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, released the following statement:

“Andrew Wheeler today showed that he is nothing more than Scott Pruitt with a new coat of lead paint. Like Pruitt, he took every opportunity today to distort the truth to Senators about his record of trying to dismantle every clean air, clean water and climate safeguard he could get his hands on. His platitudes are betrayed by his record. For example, Wheeler’s claim that climate change ranks high on the list of what keeps him awake at night could only be true if he’s referring to his tireless efforts to come up with new ways to make the crisis demonstrably worse. As Acting Administrator, Wheeler has spent his time doing the work of his former fossil fuel clients and rolling back some of our biggest defenses against climate disruption like the Clean Car Standards and the Clean Power Plan. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and all Senators, should put an end to this corruption and oppose this dangerous nomination.”


About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit