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A coal lobbyist may become Scott Pruitt’s right-hand man at the EPA.

Andrew Wheeler, an energy attorney and a registered lobbyist for Murray Energy, is “expected” to be offered the deputy administrator position at the Environmental Protection Agency, sources told Politico on Friday. The article cautioned that the White House’s decision “has not yet been finalized.” Indeed, in an email to me, Wheeler said, “I have not been offered any position.” He did not respond to a follow-up asking if he’s actually interested in the job, or if he’s been in contact with the administration.

If Wheeler is given the gig, it appears he would be yet another powerful bureaucrat who falsely denies the science of climate change. In 2006, when he served as a Republican staffer for the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, Wheeler said he believed the planet could actually be moving through a cooling cycle (it wasn’t, and isn’t):

And actually, going back to the ice core samples and different sea samples and even further back than that, but the question is whether or not it is warming or cooling. If you paid attention to the scientists in the 70s we were cooling. If you paid attention to them now we’re warming. The fact is that the climate changes regularly and what we need to make sure is that we aren’t confusing the regular cyclical movements of the climate for some extrapolation of a specific rise in temperatures or lowering. That everything works in cycles. And we have to make sure that we understand what the impact is of man-made emissions on those cycles.

Wheeler is also a former aide to the snowball-wielding climate denier extraordinaire Senator Jim Inhofe, as are at least a half a dozen other people recently hired into top spots at the EPA and the White House.

In terms of environmental regulation, it looks like Wheeler’s ideology would pair nicely with that of Pruitt, the EPA administrator. Like Pruitt, Wheeler has said he doesn’t believe the federal government should regulate the greenhouse gases that cause global warming. “I think the only reason it’s important to reduce greenhouse gases is to increase efficiency,” he said in 2004. Asked on Friday to clarify or update his position on climate change, Wheeler did not respond.

June 26, 2019

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Welcome to TNR’s coverage of the Democratic debates.

Yes, the debates are upon us, a mere 16 months before voters will cast their ballots to decide whether President Trump should get a second term. In that time, babies will be conceived and born, the earth will orbit the sun and then some, and Democrats will, with any luck, choose a champion from the two dozen candidates running for the nomination. It all begins tonight, with the first of two debates in Miami this week featuring the 20 candidates—ten each round—who qualified to participate by either polling at 1 percent in three surveys or receiving 65,000 individual donations.

The staff of The New Republic will be watching the proceedings, offering running commentary and post-debate analysis, and hopefully answering any questions readers might have. Who’s up, who’s down? Who, if anyone, seems qualified to stall America’s spiraling descent into a fiery wasteland overseen by Trumpian kleptocrats? And who is Eric Swalwell, anyway? Pop by TNR’s Minutes blog at 9 o’clock EST tonight and tomorrow night to find out!