ShareThis Page
Nomination of acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler moves to full Senate | TribLIVE.com
Politics/Election

Nomination of acting EPA head Andrew Wheeler moves to full Senate

Associated Press
714666_web1_714666-785bfaeac0f64d46b51fb28ff31416d9

WASHINGTON — Acting Environmental Protection Agency chief and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler won a Senate committee’s approval of his appointment to the permanent post on Tuesday, along with praise from the panel’s Republicans for his work rolling back a series of Obama-era environmental measures.

The 11-10 vote by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sends President Trump’s nomination of Wheeler to the full Senate. Republicans on the panel voted unanimously for Wheeler, a low-key Washington veteran who has led the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned amid ethics allegations in July.

Wheeler’s tenure has been free of the kind of allegations of personal enrichment and lavish spending that drove Pruitt out. Republicans praised Wheeler for shepherding along a series of proposed environmental rollbacks, such as proposing to narrow federal protections of wetlands and waterways, since then.

“Mr. Wheeler’s done an outstanding job leading the EPA the last six months,” said Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, the committee’s chairman.

But Democrats on the panel blasted Wheeler’s rollbacks in unanimously voting against his nomination. Delaware Sen. Tom Carper and other Democrats pointed especially to the EPA’s moves under Wheeler easing a series of environmental measures governing the coal industry, including rollbacks that coal giant Bob Murray, a former lobbying client of Wheeler, had sought from the Trump administration.

As the country’s top environmental regulator, Wheeler has not grasped “that saving coal is not part of that mission and not his job,” said Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Wheeler told lawmakers at earlier hearings that his work for Murray was primarily to improve job benefits for coal miners. Wheeler has said he was not closely involved in a wish list of regulatory breaks that Murray had presented to the Trump administration before Wheeler became Pruitt’s deputy at the EPA.

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito told lawmakers at Tuesday’s session that Wheeler in recent days had assured her that the EPA would “look at all available statutory authorities” to deal with a kind of toxic manmade industrial contaminant, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, increasingly being found in public water supplies nationally and globally.

The compounds, used in firefighting foam and in a range of consumer products to keep them stain-free and crisp, have contaminated some drinking water systems in Capito’s state of West Virginia and elsewhere around the country.

The EPA says it will soon release a national management plan for the contaminants. Some states already are setting limits for the compounds in drinking water and are urging the EPA to set mandatory limits as well.

Categories: News | Politics Election
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.