U.S. EPA administrator steps down

by Holly Demaree-Saddler
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Scott Pruitt
Scott Pruitt former EPA administrator.
Photo courtesy of EPA.
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt on July 5.

Andrew Wheeler, deputy at the EPA, has assumed the duty of acting administrator of the agency.

The announcement of Pruitt’s resignation received a positive reaction from U.S. agricultural associations.

Kevin Skunes
Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association

“It’s no secret corn farmers have been frustrated with Scott Pruitt’s ongoing actions over the past year that have seriously undermined the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS),” said Kevin Skunes, president of the National Corn Growers Association. “Even with this leadership change at the EPA, our priorities do not change. We will continue to push the EPA to stop granting unjustified RFS waivers. We expect the EPA to account for the more than 1.6 billion gallons the agency waived from 2016 and 2017 RFS obligations, and we will continue ask EPA to follow through on the president’s commitment to remove outdated regulations to allow higher blends of ethanol like E15 to be sold year-round. We are hopeful acting administrator Andrew Wheeler will work with America’s corn farmers to give consumers more options at the pump to save them money and reduce emissions and provide farmers with certainty in the marketplace that comes with RFS integrity.”

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is also looking forward to working with the acting administrator. 

“For the past year, Scott Pruitt had been waging war against the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the biofuels industry, and the millions of farmers and rural Americans who helped Donald Trump get elected,” said Bob Dinneen, president and chief executive officer of the RFA. “It appears these missteps finally caught up with Pruitt, who apparently thought that RFS stood for ‘Refinery First Strategy.’ Pruitt’s failure to follow President Trump’s directive to remove the red tape that restricts E15 from being sold in the summertime likely played a part in his demise, and the straw that broke the camel’s back may have been Pruitt’s recent proposal for 2019 RFS requirements that failed miserably to repair damages done to our nation’s farmers and biofuel producers.

“We look forward to working with acting administrator Andy Wheeler, whose long career focusing on policies that recognize economic growth and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive is not undermined by an unmistakable anti-ethanol, anti-farmer bias.”

Andrew Wheeler
Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the EPA

Wheeler was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the deputy administrator of the EPA on April 12. He was a principal and the team leader of the energy and environment practice group at FaegreBD Consulting, as well as Counsel at Faegre Baker Daniels law firm where he practiced since 2009. He also served as the co-chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Industry team across the entire firm.

Prior to his work with the firm, Wheeler was majority staff director and chief counsel, as well as the minority staff director, of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works for six years. Before his time at the full Senate EPW Committee, Wheeler served in a similar capacity for six years for the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands and Nuclear Safety. He started his career at the EPA as a special assistant in the Pollution Prevention and Toxics office, where he received three bronze medals.

Wheeler is the past chairman of the National Energy Resource Organization (NERO) and a Stennis Fellow.

He completed his law degree at Washington University in St. Louis, his MBA at George Mason University, and his undergraduate work at Case Western Reserve University in English and biology.

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