The Senate on February 28 formally confirmed Andrew Wheeler to be administrator on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a 52–47 vote, principally alongside celebration strains. The nomination of Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, was controversial, with many lawmakers and environmentalists criticizing his ties to the coal trade. 

Wheeler has held the position in an performing capability since July 5, after Scott Pruitt, the Trump administration’s first EPA head, resigned amid scrutiny for questionable moral choices involving his workplace. 

Susan Collins (R-Maine), the one Republican to vote in opposition to Wheeler, in a press release Wednesday famous issues about actions Wheeler took throughout his tenure as performing administrator. “I imagine that Mr. Wheeler, in contrast to Scott Pruitt, understands the mission of the EPA and acts in accordance with moral requirements; nonetheless, the insurance policies he has supported as Acting Administrator are usually not in one of the best curiosity of our surroundings and public well being, notably given the specter of local weather change to our nation,” she mentioned. 

Collins pointed to the EPA’s rollback of energy plant guidelines, particularly citing its December 2018 dedication that it’s now not “applicable and mandatory” to control mercury emissions from energy vegetation underneath the EPA’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), in addition to the company’s actions to switch the Clean Power Plan. “There is little doubt that the greenhouse fuel emissions driving local weather change pose a big risk to our state’s financial system and our pure sources, from our working forests, fishing, and agricultural industries, to tourism and recreation,” she mentioned. 

Joe Manchin III—a centrist Democrat from coal-rich West Virginia—additionally voted in opposition to Wheeler’s affirmation. Manchin, who mentioned he voted to substantiate Wheeler as deputy EPA administrator “as a result of I assumed the president deserved to have his staff in place,” mentioned he believed he may work with Wheeler. “Today, I voted in opposition to him to be the everlasting Administrator of the EPA as a result of as Acting Administrator, he hasn’t demonstrated a want or a will to make any significant progress on clear consuming water requirements and has rolled again clear air requirements which are immediately impacting West Virginians, each issues that I’ve raised with him.” Manchin famous that adjustments to MATS, which aren’t backed by trade, are “inappropriate and can solely serve to additional undermine the standing of our coal based mostly utilities.”

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who has strongly supported MATS, nonetheless voted for Wheeler. In a gathering on January 28, Alexander advised Wheeler that he would “not help any efforts that may jeopardize” MATS. “The Mercury Rule has helped to cut back the air pollution that had led the Great Smoky Mountains to develop into the ‘Great Smoggy Mountains’,” he mentioned in a press release Thursday. “Today, partially because of federal air pollution controls together with the  Mercury Rule, you possibly can see greater than 90 miles on the clearest days, and on the haziest days, visibility has improved to greater than 30 miles.”

Wheeler Faces Tumultuous Tenure as EPA Head

During his personal affirmation listening to on January 16 earlier than the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Wheeler mentioned he has labored to offer larger regulatory certainty each to trade, but in addition to the general public, and to Congress. “The American public have a proper to know the reality concerning the well being dangers they face of their every day lives and the way we’re responding. It is our accountability to clarify it to them clearly and persistently,” he testified. 

However, Wheeler mentioned if he had been confirmed as EPA administrator, he would proceed to work to advance President Trump’s regulatory reform agenda. “In 2018, EPA finalized 13 main deregulatory actions, saving Americans roughly $1.eight billion in regulatory prices. To date, underneath…

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