The Senate confirmed former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, despite concerns by Democrats and one Republican about regulatory rollbacks he’s made in eight months as the agency’s acting chief.
Senators voted 52-47 to confirm Wheeler, who was nominated by President Donald Trump after former administrator Scott Pruitt resigned last year amid a series of ethics allegations.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate environment committee, called Wheeler “uniquely qualified” to lead EPA and said that under Wheeler the agency is putting forward proposals that “both protect our environment and allow the country’s economy to flourish.”
But Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said Wheeler was failing to protect the environment and human health and was “nominated to unravel and undo the environmental protections that are now in place.”
Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the sole Republican to oppose Wheeler.
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association President and CEO Michael W. Johnson issued the following statement on the confirmation of Wheeler.
“We commend the Senate for confirming Andrew Wheeler as EPA Administrator. Andrew Wheeler will provide the leadership necessary to administer the programs that provide for clean air and water to all Americans. Aggregates producers need regulatory certainty to operate and build Americas communities and the roadways that connect them. We look forward to working with Administrator Wheeler and his staff on regulations that are vital to protecting the environment and allowing businesses to operate and compete in the global marketplace.”