Aw, how cute, you thought Scott Pruitt’s hypothetical firing would lead to his replacement by someone less bad? No such luck, unfortunately!
If Pruitt does get the can—Trump’s “enthusiasm may be cooling,” the New York Times reports, making such a scenario increasingly likely—his would-be successor may not share in his extreme managerial paranoia or penchant for unnecessary trips to Morocco. However, Andrew Wheeler, who is currently Pruitt’s number 2, would happily continue Pruitt’s passion project of reshaping the EPA into the Fossil Fuel Protection Agency. In fact, he would probably be better at it.
From the Times:
Since last month’s confirmation of Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, the former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, White House staff members say they believe that if Mr. Pruitt is fired or resigns, Mr. Wheeler will continue to effectively push through Mr. Trump’s agenda to help the coal industry and roll back environmental regulations.
Some Republicans have said that Mr. Wheeler, a former Capitol Hill and E.P.A. staff member — known as a low-key but highly experienced Washington insider — would quite likely be as effective, and possibly more so, than Mr. Pruitt at undoing regulations, without drawing the embarrassing headlines of his boss.
In addition to his experience lobbying on behalf of the energy and chemical industries’ biggest polluters, Wheeler was chief of staff for Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), one of Congress’s loudest and most ridiculous climate change deniers.
To these positions he brought deregulatory expertise first honed during a stint at the EPA in the ‘90s, and therein lies the danger: While many of Pruitt’s actions have been lazy and rushed, causing a number to be struck down in court, Wheeler, as the Times put it, “is viewed as a low-key insider with years of Washington experience in the art of pursuing policy change while avoiding public distraction.”
For Republicans who have soured on Pruitt, sloppy corruption is evidently a no-no. But experienced, media-savvy corruption—the kind where a coal baron tells you what he needs, and you give it to him, but are just really low-key about the whole thing? They’ll take it!