Former energy lobbyist confirmed as nation’s top environmental official

Andrew Wheeler addresses staff at EPA headquarters

Susan Collins voted "no" on Thursday.

Andrew Wheeler testifies at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 16, 2019. The Senate approved his appointment for that post on April 12, 2018 by a vote of 53 to 45.

"As acting administrator of EPA, (Wheeler) has prioritized commonsense policies that protect our air and water, while allowing our economy to grow", said Senate Republican John Barrasso of Wyoming following the 52-47 vote.

In a speech on the Senate floor following that vote, Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from DE, said that in some cases Wheeler has "accelerated the environmental damage and regulatory zeal" that Pruitt began.

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Andrew Wheeler will become permanent EPA administrator.

And Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, said Wheeler's "extensive experience" had prepared him to serve as the nation's top environmental official.

"There is no doubt that the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change pose a significant threat" to ME and the nation, Collins said, adding that pollution from coal-fired power plants threatens Maine's natural resources, "from our working forests, fishing and agricultural industries, to tourism and recreation". "And his record on climate change is simply disqualifying", he said.

And Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Geoff Cooper added, "We congratulate Administrator Wheeler on his Senate confirmation".

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The world has warmed more than 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial levels, and a United Nations report last fall concluded that humans need to cut their carbon emissions almost in half over the coming decade to stave off the most catastrophic impacts of climate change. He also made it explicitly clear to lawmakers that he intends to continue the Trump Administration's reversal of environmental regulations.

✅Weakening requirements that protect communities from accidents at chemical plants.

Targeting an Obama-era policy opposed by farmers, the EPA announced plans in December under Wheeler's leadership to kill a clean-water rule that offered federal protections for wetlands and other isolated water bodies. He capped off the month by announcing plans to relax a rule restricting how much mercury and other unsafe pollutants coal-fired plants can release into the air.

"Wheeler wants to turn the EPA into a wish-granting service for polluters, no matter the cost to public health or wildlife". Mitch McConnell, who has received over $2 million in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and thousands from coal interests throughout his legislative career, joined with the majority voting in favor of Wheeler's confirmation. "But it's only a matter of time before his dirty dealings land him in the same trash heap as his predecessor", said Emily Knobbe, EPA policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based environmental group.

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