The EPA’s deputy chief may be an even bigger threat to the environment than Scott Pruitt

Pruitt’s new second in command “keeps a lower profile, he’s not as flashy,” says Zach Drennen, the communications manager at Climate Advisers, a consulting firm that focuses on climate change policy. But he also has a clear track record of changing policies. Wheeler is a Washington insider who’s been working for years to weaken environmental protections out of the public eye. His career includes a stint as the chief counsel for Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a known climate denier who famously brought a snowball in the Senate as proof that global warming isn’t real. Wheeler has also worked as a lobbyist for clients including Murray Energy, a coal giant that sued the EPA multiple times. “As a former coal lobbyist, he’s got more of an appreciation of the intricacies of the system,” Drennen says.

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