Post includes content by Matthew Daly, Associated Press
The good news - Scott Pruitt is gone from the Environmental Protection Agency!
The not so good news - the new leader of the EPA is a former coal industry lobbyist who helped lead an industry fight against regulations that protect Americans' health and address climate change.
Andrew Wheeler, the former No. 2 official at EPA, will take over the agency now that President Donald Trump has accepted the resignation of embattled administrator Scott Pruitt.
Wheeler, 53, could serve more than a year in an acting role. A Senate vote would be required if he is nominated to lead the agency permanently.
Republicans say Wheeler is well-qualified to lead the EPA, having worked at the agency early in his career. He also was a top aide at the Senate Environment Committee before becoming a lobbyist nine years ago.
Democrats and environmental groups decried Wheeler as a coal apologist and former top aide to a GOP senator who rejects mainstream climate science.
"Andrew Wheeler's coal credentials are without equal. He is, without question, a member of the coal industry's Hall of Fame," said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. By elevating Wheeler to replace Pruitt, he said, "the EPA is only trading one fossil fuel friend for another."
Like Pruitt, Wheeler is a conservative who will seek to roll back rules governing clean air and water and fighting against climate change.
But unlike Pruitt, Wheeler is considered low-key and is a Washington insider who has spent much of his career in the nation's capital.
Until his nomination by Trump last fall, Wheeler worked as a lobbyist with a client list that included Murray Energy, one of the nation's largest coal mining companies. He accompanied Murray CEO Bob Murray during a series of closed-door meetings to lobby the Trump administration to kill environmental regulations affecting coal mines.