EPA chief clears committee hurdle; now to full Senate vote

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(1-minute read) REPLACES SCOTT PRUITT

Andrew Wheeler was approved to lead the Environmental Protection Agency by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today.

The committee, which has a slight majority of Republicans, voted along party lines, 11-10, allowing the nomination to go to the full Senate for a vote.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan serves on this committee and voted in favor of Wheeler.

Wheeler was already confirmed by the Senate as the deputy administrator of the EPA, and was appointed as acting administrator when Scott Pruitt resigned in July, 2018. His nomination for the permanent position is opposed by Democrats and environmentalists, who have tried to slow down the process and leave him as “acting” administrator. That would put any of his major decisions in limbo, as they would be easily reversed if he remains unconfirmed.

Wheeler came to the EPA after working for Murray Energy, a coal producer. But he’s spent many years in the nation’s capital in the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention. An attorney, his first job with the EPA was as special assistant to the Information Management Division director in the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.

In May, 2018, Politico authors wrote that his nomination to the EPA should “scare anyone who breathes.” The environmental industry has vociferously opposed him, calling him a “risk to public health.”