Andrew Wheeler, former head of the EPA under President Donald Trump, has joined Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s transition team.
Wheeler will serve on a six-person team advising Youngkin (R) on natural and historic resources in a state with heavy coal exports. Its chair is state Sen. Richard Stuart (R).
Wheeler ascended to the top leadership post at the Environmental Protection Agency in 2019 and served until the end of Trump’s presidency. He currently serves as a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation. The Youngkin campaign announced his new role on Wednesday.
In May, Wheeler told Bloomberg Law he wanted to spend his post-EPA life helping companies embed sustainability into their missions to avoid “just checking a box.” He also said he wanted to nudge companies and governments to look at environmental issues holistically, rather than narrowly scrutinizing one medium, such as air, water, or land.
Youngkin tweeted in October that climate change “poses a real challenge in Virginia,” noting the threats of storm water runoff and rising sea levels. But at times he has also expressed uncertainty about the causes of climate change, and has denounced the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which speeds the state’s transition to renewable energy.
The southwestern tip of Virginia is home to some 60 coal mines, and the state handles about 40% of the nation’s coal exports, according to the Energy and Information Administration. Natural gas accounted for 61% of Virginia’s utility-scale electricity in 2020, EIA said.