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Trump picks coal industry lobbyist for EPA deputy role — drawing mixed reaction

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President Donald Trump on Thursday named Andrew Wheeler, a coal industry lobbyist and former congressional staffer, as his pick for deputy administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, prompting contrasting reactions from industry and environmental groups.

The Sierra Club, an environmental group, called his nomination, which is subject to Senate confirmation, “absolutely horrifying,” while a coal industry group and some Republican politicians said he was well qualified for the job.

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The EPA said in a statement Wheeler had spent four years at the agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics during the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations, as well as many years on Capitol Hill, including as counsel for conservative Republican Senator James Inhofe.

It said he currently works as a principal at FaegreBD Consulting, “providing guidance on federal regulatory and legislative environmental and energy issues.”

Inhofe said in the statement that no one is more qualified than Wheeler to help EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “restore EPA to its proper size and scope.”

The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, an industry lobby group, called Wheeler extraordinarily qualified for the job, saying in a statement: “His understanding of a wide range of environmental policies and the policy development process — combined with his thoughtfulness, judgment and temperament — will enable him to be an outstanding Deputy Administrator.”

But the Sierra Club called his nomination “absolutely horrifying,” adding in a statement: “Andrew Wheeler is a big time lobbyist who has represented Big Coal for almost a decade, including in numerous lawsuits challenging the EPA. He is a friend to polluters, not to American families that rely on clean air and clean water.”

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Pruitt led 14 lawsuits against the agency when he was Oklahoma’s attorney general, and has said he is not convinced that carbon dioxide from human activity is the main driver of climate change, a position widely embraced by scientists.

He was appointed by President Donald Trump, a climate change doubter, who campaigned on a pledge to boost the U.S. oil and gas drilling and coal mining industries by reducing regulation.

He also promised to pull Washington out of a global pact to fight climate change, which he did in June.

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(Reporting by Eric Walsh)


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Matt Gaetz forgot which network he was on: Surprised CNN anchor said ‘I’ve never been called Sean Hannity’

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Rep. Matt Gaetz seemed to confuse cable news networks during a Thursday appearance

Gaetz was interviewed by CNN's Chris Cuomo, who aggressively challenged Gaetz on the facts as the Florida Republican attempted to defend President Donald Trump.

Despite the fact Cuomo's interview was nothing like the puff segments Gaetz is used to on Fox, the congressman seemed confused by the end.

"Congressman, you are always welcome, wherever I am, at nine or eleven, whenever," Cuomo said.

"Thanks Sean," Gaetz replied.

"Did you just call me Sean?" Cuomo asked. "Did you just call me Sean?"

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California lawmaker who chaired Republican Assembly caucus leaving GOP — to become an independent: report

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On Thursday, the Sacramento Bee reported that California Assemblyman Chad Mayes, the former Assembly Minority Leader, is leaving the Republican Party and registering as No Party Preference.

"Instead of focusing on solutions for the big problems that we've got, we focused on winning elections," said Mayes in his announcement. "For me, I'm at the point in my life where I'm done with gamesmanship."

Mayes, a controversial figure who was implicated in an affair with a fellow public official, represents Yucca Valley. He is the second Republican Assemblyman this year to leave the party, after Brian Maienschein of San Diego, who Maienschein of San Diego.

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‘Quantum physics generator’ incident in Ohio results in evacuation — hazmat found no radiation

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Authorities in Columbus, Ohio evacuated dozens of homes after a man called 911 to report being burned by a

"Firefighters say nothing threatening was found in a northwest Columbus garage," WCMH-TV reported. "According to firefighters, a man called and reported that he received ‘RF burns’ while building some sort of ‘quantum physics generator’ in a garage. The man used words like ‘particle accelerator,’ ‘alpha rays,’ and ‘radiation’ while describing how he was burned."

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