EDF Action Opposes the Nomination of Andrew Wheeler as Virginia Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources

Track record while at EPA is out of step with Virginia’s environmental priorities

January 10, 2022
Hannah Blatt, hblatt@edfaction.org, 202-572-3534

(Washington, D.C. – January 10, 2022) Last week, Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin announced his nomination of former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to be Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources, surprising Virginians across the political spectrum.

“Governor-elect Youngkin’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources is both disappointing and concerning,” said Mandy Warner, Virginia Director for EDF Action, the advocacy partner of Environmental Defense Fund. “EDF Action and our partner at EDF do not oppose executive nominations at the state or federal level lightly, but EDF took the historic step in 2019 to oppose Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to be EPA Administrator due to his concerning record. His nomination to this position now is particularly concerning for Virginia.

“As EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler systematically ignored science, attacked the foundation of long-standing environmental protections, weakened or eliminated meaningful limits on climate pollution and undermined overwhelmingly-supported mercury standards that protect children and save thousands of lives every year,” continued Warner. “Climate change is impacting Virginians now, not in 50 to 75 years, as Mr. Wheeler contended as Administrator of the EPA, with communities across the commonwealth experiencing increasingly intense and damaging storms, floods and extreme heat events. Mr. Wheeler’s track record while at the helm of the EPA stands in stark contrast to what Virginians want, and as a result, we must oppose his nomination.”

Notably, a bipartisan Congressional majority voted to overturn Wheeler’s weakened methane rules with support from both large and small oil and gas producers as well as utilities, demonstrating his actions were far outside the mainstream.

Virginia has made great environmental progress in recent years by committing to 100% decarbonization by 2045, releasing the commonwealth’s first coastal resilience master plan and becoming the first southern state to participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which has generated unprecedented funding for flood resilience and energy efficiency improvements. EDF Action polling found that over 77% of voters want Virginia’s next governor to address flood risk.

“Virginia needs a Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources who is guided by science, respects our environmental laws and values public health to move Virginia forward,” said Warner. “EDF Action stands ready to work with the incoming Youngkin Administration to protect clean water and air, advance flood resilience across the commonwealth and build a thriving, equitable future for all of Virginia’s communities.”