The acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency was a key ally in the conservative fight to paint climate change as a hoax, according to a book by a senator leading that effort.
The book, by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., raises more questions about Andrew Wheeler’s appointment to a job at the forefront of climate policy.
Before joining the Trump administration, Wheeler was lobbying the federal government — including, at times, the EPA — for uranium-mining, natural-gas and coal-mining companies. Now, those companies stand to benefit from the administration’s efforts to roll back Obama-era standards and exit the Paris climate accord.
Published in 2012, Inhofe’s book, “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future,” named Wheeler in the acknowledgments. Inhofe wrote that he and Wheeler “fought alone especially in the early days of the climate change fight of 2003 to 2005” and that Wheeler “did an extraordinary job helping me expose the hoax.”
Inhofe’s praise raises questions about Wheeler’s beliefs as he leads the federal agency that regulates activities linked to climate change. Though Wheeler has recently said he believes climate change exists and that humans contribute to it, he maintains a relationship with Inhofe and employs several former Inhofe aides.
In an interview with The New York Times in July, Wheeler provided more details about his work for energy companies, including his lobbying against a rule to restrict coal companies from dumping waste into streams and the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s plan to curb carbon dioxide emissions.
Last month, according to the Columbus Dispatch, Wheeler touted the administration’s intention to scrap the plan and allow states to regulate emissions based on less-stringent federal guidelines.
President Donald Trump has not yet named a nominee to replace his first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July amid mounting ethical scandals around his expenses and ties to industry lobbyists. In April, the Senate confirmed Wheeler as the EPA’s deputy administrator in a 53-45 vote.
Inhofe is known as one of the Senate’s staunchest skeptics of climate science, who once presented a snowball on the Senate floor as evidence it does not exist. His book argues that climate change is a hoax contrived by the likes of Al Gore, the United Nations, and “environmental elites.” It questions the scientific methods used to measure climate change and the motivations behind those who perpetuate the “conspiracy.”
At times, “The Greatest Hoax” appeals to science fiction and religion to make its points. Inhofe referred readers to “State of Fear,” a novel by thriller writer Michael Crichton, as an accurate portrayal of the real-life flaws in the climate-change movement.
Inhofe also implored climate “alarmists” to remember “God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.”