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Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testifies during a hearing titled "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency" in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Al Drago/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), testifies during a hearing titled "Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency" in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on May 20, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Al Drago/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

EPA Chief Says Trump's Evisceration of Regulations "Make Things Better"—But Forgets to Add "For Polluters"

"For Wheeler to claim these rollbacks were for the good of the nation is absurd and insulting," says environmental leader.

Jon Queally

After EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday claimed his agency's evisceration of environmental regulations does "make things better" in the world, Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group responded by saying it appeared the Trump-appointed former industry lobbyist forgot to add the crucial caveat "better—for polluters" to his sentence.

"Will you stop writing rules that make things actually worse and not better," Wheeler was asked by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee, during testimony.

Wheeler's response to Carper that "All our rules make things better, sir" was appalling to outside critics like Cook, whose group has studiously documented the EPA's dismantling of protections and restrictions under President Donald Trump.

"For more than three years, the Trump EPA has done everything it can to remove the safeguards meant to protect Americans' exposure to toxic chemicals, dirty air, and contaminated drinking water," Cook said in a statement. "For Wheeler to claim these rollbacks were for the good of the nation is absurd and insulting."

Carper had made clear before Wednesday's hearing that he planned to ask tough questions and demand explanations from Wheeler:

As part of its retort against Wheeler's public testimony, EWG offered just a partial list of the EPA's recent failures to protect public health and the environment:

Trump's EPA has made nothing but enemies among U.S. green groups, but the Covid-19 outbreak has only intensified focus on the administration's grotesque failures when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of the American public.

"At a time when our government should be doing all it can to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic, the EPA actually has been rolling back critical public health safeguards in a way that will increase our exposure to mercury, soot, toxic chemicals, super-polluting HFCs, and perchlorate," said Vijay Limaye, science fellow in the Science Center at NRDC, just ahead of Wheeler's testimony on Wednesday. "Lawmakers must hold Wheeler accountable for these indefensible actions that are making us sick."


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