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From Wildfires to Pipelines: EPA Administrator Wheeler in Conversation

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Media Partner: Yahoo! Finance



  • Governor Newsom of California recently announced through an executive order that the state plans to phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered cars and trucks within 15 years. Andrew Wheeler argued that the American public is not ready for such a dramatic shift, citing data that purportedly shows that citizens are failing to embrace electric vehicles. Wheeler also contended that Governor Newsom’s executive order aims to divert attention away from California’s mismanagement of recent forest fires. 
  • Wheeler posited that policies put into effect under the Trump administration have been extremely environmentally prudent. Four regulations have been implemented to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Air pollution has reportedly decreased 7%. The Trump administration has imposed twice as many civil and criminal fines for polluting as did the Obama administration, cleared a significant backlog of environmental permits, and made it significantly easier for the public to access EPA guidance. 
  • Xi Jinping recently announced that China would reach peak emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Wheeler argued that we should take Xi’s proclamation with not just a grain but a shaker of salt: China remains far ahead of its peers when it comes to carbon emissions, and, under the Paris Agreement, can continue to increase its emissions for the next ten years. Moreover, 2060 remains far in the future, and China could make many changes to its plans before then. 
  • While Wheeler acknowledged that climate change did play a role, he blamed recent West Coast forest fires chiefly on poor forest management.

“The New York Times accused us of having 100 rollbacks. But in almost every case, we replaced an overregulation with a more up-to-date regulation that is based on more current science—it gets the environmental protection, but it does it in more of an economic fashion,” Andrew Wheeler

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • When voicing his opposition to California’s decision to phase out gasoline-powered vehicles, Wheeler argued that the government has no right to dictate what products the American public should purchase. Rather, the government should focus on educating the public about good environmental practices.


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