Press Releases

Beyer Statement On Appointment Of Andrew Wheeler

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), who serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, issued the following statement today on reports that Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin intends to appoint former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler to serve as Virginia’s next Secretary of Natural Resources:

“Andrew Wheeler is one of the worst people the Governor-elect could have chosen for this job.

“Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, led the implementation of an EPA dirty air initiative his own agency estimated would lead to 1,400 premature deaths and breathing problems in thousands of people, many of them children. He led the Trump Administration’s efforts to dismantle environmental protections, selling out the American people and the EPA’s very mission to benefit corporate polluters. He violated the Trump Administration’s ethics pledge.

“After the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol one year ago, numerous senior Administration officials publicly condemned President Trump’s role in inciting the violence, including several Cabinet Members who resigned in protest. Andrew Wheeler stood by Trump and refused to criticize him.

“Putting an anti-environment ideologue in this important position would be a far cry from the kind of consensus-based, pragmatic leadership the Governor-elect promised. There are others with defensible records on environmental protection who would not compromise our natural resources or the moral and ethical standards Virginians expect and deserve. Governor-elect Youngkin can do better than this.”

As EPA Administrator for the Trump Administration beginning in mid-2018, Andrew Wheeler oversaw a number of pushes to weaken environmental protections, including coal rules that EPA scientists estimated would lead to an additional 1,400 premature deaths. A skeptic of the impact of climate change, he implemented numerous rules and regulations to end American efforts to combat emissions. Wheeler also led efforts to weaken scientific foundations of EPA work, going so far as to alter projections of deaths resulting from deregulation by changing the way those projections were calculated. He violated the Trump Administration’s ethics pledge, and stood by Trump following the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, refusing to criticize him.

As a Member of the House Science Committee, Beyer was a leading critic of the Trump EPA and Andrew Wheeler’s leadership. He vigorously opposed the Trump “secret science” rule, sought investigation of Wheeler’s potential ethics violations and raised conflicts of interest arising from Wheeler former employer, coal baron Robert Murray.

Beyer strongly opposes Governor-elect Youngkin’s stated intention to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.