Don’t Put Coal Lobbyist in Charge of Environmental Protection

Target: Dick Saslaw, Majority Leader of Virginia Senate

Goal: Do not confirm Andrew Wheeler for Secretary of Natural Resources.

Newly sworn-in Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin is already courting controversy with some of his early decisions. One consequential announcement involves his choice for the state’s Secretary of Natural Resources. According to the gubernatorial website, this post is responsible for advancing “the Governor’s top environmental priorities” and overseeing multiple agencies that “protect and restore the Commonwealth’s natural and historic resources.” Over 150 people who worked for or with Wheeler at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have one unified response to his potential confirmation:  this man would undermine and destroy this mission.

Wheeler served as Administrator of the EPA during part of President Donald Trump’s time in office. He came into the job as an ardent coal lobbyist whose last employer was a climate change denier. While in the EPA role, he confirmed many of the worst fears of critics by dismantling initiatives aimed at holding coal-fired power plants to account, protecting vital wetlands, curbing auto pollution, and more. One former Science Advisory Board member characterized his tenure as routine “atrocities on science.”

In an urgent letter to the Viriginia General Assembly, this scientist joined colleagues from rank-and-file staff up to former assistant administrators in condemning Governor Youngkin’s pick. The letter states, “as EPA Administrator, Mr. Wheeler pursued an extremist approach, methodically weakening EPA’s ability to protect public health and the environment, instead favoring polluters. Mr. Wheeler also sidelined science at the agency, ignored both agency and outside experts, rolled back rules to cut greenhouse gases and protect the climate, and took steps to hamstring EPA and slow efforts to set the agency back on course after he left office.”

Wheeler will need the confirmation of both chambers of the General Assembly before he can take office. Sign the petition below to urge lawmakers to reject this step backward for Virginia’s environmental future.


Dear Senator Saslaw,

Whether the goal is keeping the Chesapeake Bay clean and healthy, cutting carbon emissions, or so much more, the stakes for Virginia’s natural legacy have never been higher. The state needs a strong steward to lead it into the many challenges ahead. Andrew Wheeler is clearly not that leader.

More than 150 current and former EPA employees have expressed this belief from hard first-hand experience. Wheeler helped leave a stain on the EPA that remains to this day. The stain he left on the environment itself by prioritizing fossil fuel special interests over irreplaceable lands, waters, air, and wildlife will linger even longer. Do not let the same fate befall Virginia’s natural resources department.

Reject Andrew Wheeler’s confirmation, and firmly reject all for which he stands.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Environmental Protection Agency


  1. This Country will never advance to clean, sustainable energy with this man in charge. There’s probably a million other people who would be most suited for the job. KEEP LOOKING!!!

  2. Evan Jane Kriss says:

    Conflict of Interest mean anything to you? Fox guarding the hen house?

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