The Senate confirmed Thursday the former spokesman for the coal industry, Andrew Wheeler, as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, by a vote in 52 voice against 47, going for the essentials over the parties.
The addition to Wheeler's cabinet of President Trump, who has served as a director of the EPA since the resignation of former Chief Scott Pruitt last July in the midst of a series of ethical investigations, has been underway ever since. November, when the President formally appointed him.
"The Senate has taken decisive action to confirm Andrew Wheeler as the administrator of the [EPA]Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Tweeted. "As interim director of [the EPA]he favored common sense policies that protect our air and water, while allowing our economy to grow.
EPA examines OBAMA-ERA regulation of mercury in coal plants
The appointment of Wheeler – and his position as Acting Director of the EPA – has not been without controversy, with many Democrats and environmental activists criticizing him for his close ties to the industry. coal and for its willingness to deregulate a number of environmental rules and safeguards put in place by Obama administration.
"Senate Republicans have officially instructed a coal lobbyist to protect our children from the stale air and toxic water created by its polluting customers," said Sierra Club General Manager Michael Brune in a statement. a statement. "With every step back, Wheeler is putting the package in favor of the polluting companies that had previously used it, leaving our families with the price of pollution that is more toxic to their health."
Senator Susan Collins of Maine was the only Republican to oppose Wheeler's confirmation.
"Although Mr. Wheeler is certainly qualified for this position, the actions he has taken during his tenure as interim director are worrying too much to be able to support his promotion," Collins said in a statement. a statement. "The policies that he has adopted as an acting administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and our public health, especially given the threat of climate change to our country."
Wheeler began his career at the EPA's Information Management Division before becoming a senior advisor to Senator Jim Inhofe, R-Ok., Then a lobbyist with Faegre's law firm. Baker Daniels, where he represented the controversial coal producer Murray Energy. In October 2017, Trump appointed him Deputy Administrator of the EPA.
ANDREW WHEELER IS AN OLD LOBBYIST OF CHARCOAL WITH A VICTIM EXPERIENCE SINCE DECADES IN WASHINGTON
During his term as Interim Administrator of the EPA, Wheeler proposed a relaxation of carbon limits imposed on power plants and a relaxation of energy efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. It also sought to facilitate the approval of new coal-fired power plants, reversing the legal rationale for limiting mercury emissions from power plants and limiting the federal government's authority to protect small waterways.
However, Wheeler's incentive to deregulate has been accompanied by a relaxation of some of Pruitt's most controversial regulatory plans, including a move to relax the long-haul truck emissions rules. Last week, Wheeler also tabled a plan to impose stricter limits on nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy trucks.
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The confirmation he made Thursday was hailed by the industry he represented, which sees him as an ally in the fight against the repealed regulations in Obama's Plan for Clean Eating.
"Andrew Wheeler has been seen as a thoughtful leader who understands the need for sensible environmental policies," said Michelle Bloodworth, president of the coal industry group, America's Power, in a statement. "His extensive experience in the public service demonstrates his integrity in serving the EPA's mission. We congratulate Director Wheeler and look forward to continuing his leadership at EPA. "