Former coal lobbyist visits major fracking company in Pennsylvania on first trip as EPA chief

Mark Hand

"Western Pennsylvania has become a popular destination for the heads of President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), especially visits to companies with a history of environmental violations.

Less than two months after getting sworn in as EPA chief, Scott Pruitt visited a coal mine south of Pittsburgh to announce his “back-to-basics” strategy and declare the “war on coal is done.”

On Monday, Andrew Wheeler made his first visit out of Washington as acting EPA administrator. He traveled to the Pittsburgh suburbs to visit the regional headquarters of Range Resources, the largest natural gas producer in Pennsylvania but one with a poor environmental record.

Pruitt used a photo op at the Harvey coal mine in Sycamore, Pennsylvania in April 2017 — in the early stages of his tenure as EPA administrator — to emphasize his commitment to rolling back environmental regulations on the coal industry.

The Harvey mine, owned by Consol Energy, is part of the Bailey Mine Complex. In 2016, Consol Energy was fined $3 million, as part of a settlement agreement with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice, for violating the Clean Water Act by discharging contaminated mine wastewater from the Bailey Mine Complex into tributaries of the Ohio River.

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