New EPA Head Andrew Wheeler Vows to Be ‘Stabilizing Force’ After Pruitt Turmoil
Lobbyists say longtime Washington insider will likely better marshal bureaucracy to realize Trump agenda
Andrew Wheeler will replace Scott Pruitt as acting Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Wheeler has been a Washington insider for almost 30 years according to The Wall Street Journal, having been a behind-the-scenes advisor, lobbyist and policy intellectual before becoming Mr. Pruitt's deputy at the agency in the spring of 2018.
Although both Mr. Pruitt and Mr. Wheeler are supporters of President Donald Trump's deregulatory agenda, many believe that the latter will have more success realizing and actualizing it. Most importantly, Mr. Wheeler is more likely to be able to avoid pushing the EPA into the spotlight.
Paired with Mr. Pruitt's mistrust of EPA staff and other lackluster leadership qualities, Holland & Knight Partner and lobbyist Rich Gold commented that these scandals "became a distraction" and "drew extra media scrutiny to Mr. Pruitt's push for deregulation," as well as "dented his claim to be working for the public good."
"It is sort of an ideal transition," added Mr. Gold. "You're bringing in the mechanic who's been under the hood and understood how things have worked for years. Andy is a serious person and is much more formidable to environmentalists and Democrats in terms of finalizing agency actions that can survive challenges."