MEMO: New EPA head lobbied to gut Bears Ears, Zinke now most scandal-plagued cabinet member

Jul 5, 2018

The resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt leaves Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler in charge of the agency. While Wheeler is most notable for being a lobbyist for coal companies, he also has a track record of lobbying to reduce protections for public lands in the name of expanded uranium mining. Wheeler joins a scandal-plagued cabinet led by investigation-prone Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

As a lobbyist for Energy Fuels Resources, Andrew Wheeler asked the Interior Department to gut Bears Ears National Monument to allow for more uranium mining

  • Last year Wheeler served as a lobbyist for Energy Fuels Resources (EFR), a company operating uranium mines and mills just outside of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah.
  • On July 17th, 2017, Andrew Wheeler and Paul Goranson, an executive at Energy Fuels Resources, met with high-level officials in the Interior Department, including Downey Magallanes, the architect of Secretary Zinke’s national monuments report, to “discuss the Bear Ears [sic] National Monument.”
  • Two days later, on July 19th, 2017, Andrew Wheeler met with Vincent DeVito (see page 123). DeVito is Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Counselor for Energy Policy.
  • In a letter to Secretary Zinke, EFR made clear their desires, stating:
    • “There are also many other known uranium and vanadium deposits located within the newly created BENM that could provide valuable energy and mineral resources in the future.”
    • “EFR respectfully requests that DOI reduce the size of the BENM to only those specific areas or sites, if any, deemed to need additional protection beyond what is already available to Federal land management agencies.”

With Scott Pruitt’s resignation, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is now the most scandal-plagued cabinet member remaining