- The White House is preparing to nominate coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to serve as deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to media reports.
- Wheeler, a principal at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, is a lobbyist for coal giant Murray Energy and is skeptical of the science on climate change. He previously served as an aide to Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a well-known opponent of government action on climate.
- Wheeler's nomination would follow a number of other industry veterans named to senior energy posts, including Berkshire Hathaway's Mark Menezes, a long-time lobbyist, recently tapped for undersecretary at the Department of Energy.
President Trump's pledge to "drain the swamp" has given way to the appointment of a number of industry veterans as his administration campaigns to undo Obama-era regulations.
Often those industry nominations have come at the expense of naming career employees to senior positions. Axios points out that Jeff Holmstead, who served at EPA under President George W. Bush, was previously promised the nomination but was ultimately reconsidered, possibly because he was not considered conservative enough.
Wheeler has been outspoken in his criticism of mainstream climate science, writing several years ago wrote that the U.N.'s International Panel on Climate Change "has blurred the lines between science and advocacy."
Wheeler previously worked on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, where he served as staff director and chief counsel.
If nominated and confirmed, Wheeler would serve directly under former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a longtime critic of the agency who is now its administrator.
Along with Menezes at DOE, Trump also nominated Paul Dabbar to serve as Undersecretary for Science at the agency. Dabbar is managing director for mergers and acquisitions for J.P. Morgan and the White House says he has more than $400 billion in investment experience across the energy.
Dabbar is currently on the DOE's Environmental Management Advisory Board, and his business experience is touted as a key to managing the office.
Another nominee to DOE, Dan Brouillette would serve as Deputy Secretary of Energy. Brouillette is senior vice president and head of public policy for USAA, a provider of financial services to the military community.
While the White House has been slow to nominate for many positions, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), head of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has indicated she wants to confirm the DOE nominees before lawmakers leave for the August recess.