President Trump announced Friday his intent to name Andrew Wheeler the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Mr. Wheeler currently serves as the agency’s acting administrator, and will permanently replace former EPA head, Scott Pruitt.
Mr. Trump made the announcement at a White House ceremony honoring seven people with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
In his announcement, Trump briefly stated Wheeler has “done a fantastic job, and I want to congratulate him.”
An attorney and lobbyist, Wheeler previously served in the EPA´s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, before serving as a staffer to former Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Wheeler later served as Chief Counsel to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
Departing the Senate in 2009, Wheeler accepted a position with Washington, D.C., law firm Faegre Baker Daniels, serving with the practice’s consulting division. In his role Wheeler concentrated on efforts to lobby for subsidies and protections to the coal industry, a fact seized on by Sierra Club executive director, Michael Brune.
“Putting a coal lobbyist like Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA is like giving a thief the keys to a bank vault,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a single day when the Administrator of the EPA schemes with corporate polluters to attack public health, but Wheeler has made it a regular habit because he is unable to give up his corporate polluter ties.”
Wheeler primarily represented Murray Energy for a decade as an associate with Faegre Baker Daniels.
Following the July resignation of Scott Pruitt, Trump appointed Wheeler temporary head of the agency. Wheeler has since continued Pruitt’s efforts to repeal automotive emissions standards and has proposed to scrap the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.
Similarly, Wheeler eliminated the EPA’s Office of Science Standards and two boards associated with the office.
Although Trump was praised by Republicans for his decision, Democrats in Congress reserved skepticism for the nomination to lead the EPA.
“If the president intends to nominate Andrew Wheeler to be the administrator of EPA, then Mr. Wheeler must come before our committee so that members can look at his record as acting administrator objectively to see if any improvements have been made at the agency since he took the helm,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).
Wheeler will require Senate confirmation before before becoming the new head of the agency.
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