Jan 5, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Former Trump EPA head tapped as Virginia secretary of natural resources

Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday named Andrew Wheeler, former head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as the state's secretary of natural resources.

Why it matters: Wheeler rolled back many of the regulations intended to address climate change during his tenure as an EPA administrator. He also faced criticism for attributing increased wildfires in California to forest management.

  • He previously served as a special assistant in EPA’s Pollution Prevention and Toxics office during the George W. Bush administration.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Andrew Freedman: Wheeler is a Washington insider, having worked on Capitol Hill and K street prior to running the EPA. While at the agency, he presided over numerous rollbacks of environmental regulations, from relaxing auto fuel economy standards to changing methane regulations for oil and gas infrastructure.

  • He also expressed doubts about mainstream climate science findings, dismissing the National Climate Assessment, which the EPA contributed to, as too reliant on "worst-case scenarios."

What they're saying: "Virginia needs a diverse energy portfolio in place to fuel our economic growth," Youngkin said in a statement.

  • Wheeler shares "my vision in finding new ways to innovate and use our natural resources to provide Virginia with a stable, dependable, and growing power supply," Youngkin added.
  • He "brings extensive experience and passion to the administration, dedicating his career to advancing sound environmental policies."
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