Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

For Immediate Release


Press Release

Soon To Be Former EPA Administrator Burns the American People One More Time Before Leaving


Former coal lobbyist turned EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler ignored the recommendations of EPA scientists and public health experts today by finalizing his proposal to not correct the legal limit for dangerous particulate matter pollution, also known as soot. Wheeler instead decided to retain a flawed 2012 standard despite medical evidence that the 2012 standard fails to protect public health. 

The current 2012 standard is 12 micrograms per cubic meter and current levels of particulate matter pollution result in over 52,000 premature deaths a year. EPA’s own scientists estimate that correcting the standard to 9 micrograms per cubic meter, or 25 percent stronger than the current limit, could prevent 12,500 premature deaths annually. An even stronger annual standard of 8 micrograms per cubic meter would save even more lives. But Wheeler ignored the recommendations from his own scientists, choosing instead to keep the erroneous EPA’s annual standard in place, allowing coal plants and other polluting facilities to foul our air to the current unsafe level.

In response, Al Armendariz, Sierra Club’s Senior Director of Federal Campaigns, released the following statement:  

“Soon to be former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has chosen to burn the American people one more time before he leaves office by again refusing to follow the science, medical evidence, or any moral compass. Soot is one of the most understood, most dangerous pollutants around, and despite mountains of evidence that scientists and public health experts have provided him, Wheeler has refused to protect the public from soot’s frightening health consequences. 

“As a result,  low income communities and communities of color will bear the brunt of Wheeler’s heartless decision. The people most in need of strong science based standards are the ones who will suffer. It’s no wonder the American people decided to reject the Trump Administration’s agenda. We look forward to the next Administration following the scientific evidence and setting the air quality standard that meets legal requirements to protect public health.”



Sierra Club logo

The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

Summit Participants Embrace 'Vaccine Internationalism' to End Pandemic

"Our goal is simple: to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing Covid-19 vaccines for all," says the coordinator of Progressive International's four-day virtual summit.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

UN General Assembly Condemns Myanmar Junta Violence, Urges Arms Embargo

Member nations voted 119-1 in favor of the resolution, which also calls for a return to the country's fragile democracy.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

Dems Introduce Abolition Amendment to Scrap Constitution's 'Slavery Clause'

"The loophole in our Constitution's ban on slavery not only allowed slavery to continue, but launched an era of discrimination and mass incarceration that continues to this day," said Sen. Jeff Merkley.

Julia Conley, staff writer ·

'Surreal' and 'Distressing': Climate Experts' Predictions Come True With US Heatwave

"The current heatwave and drought leave no doubt, we are living the dangerous effects of the climate crisis."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·