Senate Confirms Andrew Wheeler as Next EPA Administrator

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces that new coal plants no longer have to meet planned, tougher, Obama era emissions standards, during a news conference at the EPA Headquarters in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
AP Photo/Cliff Owen

The Senate confirmed Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler Thursday to become the next leader of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The Senate confirmed Wheeler, 52-47, to become the next leader of the EPA and continue President Donald Trump’s policy of “energy dominance.” The vote featured strong Republican support for Wheeler and vehement Democrat opposition, although Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) did vote against Wheeler’s confirmation.

“It is truly humbling to serve the American public as EPA Administrator,” said Wheeler in a statement on Thursday. “I want to thank President Trump for nominating me and Leader McConnell and Chairman Barrasso for navigating my confirmation through the Senate. I am deeply honored, and I look forward to continuing the President’s agenda and the work of the Agency alongside all my EPA colleagues.”

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, issued a statement Thursday cheering Wheeler’s confirmation.

The North Dakota conservative said:

I voted yes on Wheeler’s nomination because the policies he’s promoted and implemented are good for my state and the country. Senate Democrats’ arguments against Mr. Wheeler just didn’t add up. He handled WOTUS and the Clean Power Plan well, and cementing his role as Administrator allows him to continue working on important issues like the E15 ethanol rule, which I’m confident he’ll finalize this summer as he’s stated. It’s good to see Mr. Wheeler confirmed, and I hope to bring him to North Dakota soon.

“The adequate pace of Mr. Wheeler’s confirmation process is in stark contrast to many well-qualified presidential appointees who faced unnecessary and unprecedented delays, both in this Congress and the last one,” Cramer added. “I urge my colleagues to support the proposed rules changes that would prevent good nominees from being anonymously delayed and derailed.”

Wheeler has continued demolishing former President Barack Obama’s climate change agenda as acting chief after Scott Pruitt left the EPA’s top post. In August 2018, Wheeler proposed a light-touch alternative to Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). Also under Wheeler, the EPA rolled back Obama’s onerous gas mileage standards.

Collins decided to vote against Wheeler, contending that Wheeler would not act in the best interest of the environment.

The Maine senator said she believes the acting administrator, “unlike Scott Pruitt, understands the mission of the EPA and acts in accordance with ethical standards; however, the policies he has supported as acting administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health.”

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