Science

Senate confirms ex-coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead EPA

Senate confirms ex-coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead EPA”

"However, the policies he has supported as Acting Administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health, particularly given the threat of climate change to our nation", said Collins, who voted for Wheeler last April in his confirmation for EPA deputy. At Wheeler's confirmation hearing last month, he said he considers climate change an "eight or nine" on a 1-to-10 scale of concern but that it is not the greatest crisis.

Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Andrew Wheeler speaks during an event hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2018.

"We also call on Administrator Wheeler to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as the law of the land by reallocating the 2.25 billion gallons of ethanol blending unlawfully waived by former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt". A month later, federal scientists from 13 agencies, including the EPA, confirmed the findings in a National Climate Assessment that forecast USA average temperatures surging "9 degrees F (5 degrees C) or more by the end of this century".

Wheeler's nomination has been welcomed by businesses eager to see reduced regulation, but upset Democrats and conservation groups anxious that environmental rollbacks under the Trump administration are going too far.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, had voted to confirm Wheeler as EPA deputy administrator past year.

Before Wheeler's confirmation past year as second in command at the EPA, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wheeler's qualifications for the job were "beyond question". They have longed for one of their own calling the shots at the agency, and now they finally have their man in Andrew Wheeler.

America's Power, a trade group that represents coal producers, applauded Wheeler's confirmation.

Under Wheeler's watch, the EPA has dramatically cut fines against polluters and worked to roll back fuel efficiency standards as well as carbon and mercury emissions rules.

"During the last administration, the EPA issued punishing regulations that would hurt the economy and raise costs on families", Barrasso said.

While Wheeler doesn't outright deny climate change, he has also downplayed its urgency during his time in the Trump administration.

Industry officials credited Wheeler as helping spur the economy by restraining what they view as federal overreach.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, slammed Wheeler, saying that while his behaviour is "less cartoonish" than Pruitt, he supports the same policies.

"Throughout his career, Andrew Wheeler has shown a clear disregard for the EPA's mission to protect the public and environment", said Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein from California, after voting against him. "The senators who voted to entrust Mr. Wheeler with our environment know exactly what he will do with that power".



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