The Senate approved former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler on Thursday through a vote with Environmental Protection Agency chairman 52-47, a veteran of Washington's political and industrial circles who urged President Trump To reverse environmental regulations in the Obama era.
Wheeler began his career with the EPA in the 1990s, but spent several years on Capitol Hill before setting out. The private sector has received praise from Republicans for its deregulation agenda, but has been criticized by the Democrats, because he refused to take action on climate change and different public health priorities. He has led the agency since Trump's first administrator, Scott Pruitt, resigned in July in the face of several scandals surrounding his administration and spending practices. Trump said in November that he intends to nominate Wheeler for the top job and said he did a "fantastic job" during his transitional period.
At his January hearing in January, Wheeler outlines a series of important rules that the EPA has begun to roll back over the last two years, and he made it clear to legislators that he intended to reverse the Trump environmental legislation. Continue the government.
"Through our deregulation measures, the Trump administration has proven that no burdensome federal regulations are needed to advance the progress of the environment," said Wheeler at the time. "Safety and innovation living in a climate of safety are the key to progress."
Despite signs of rollbacks, the EPA has also launched initiatives under Wheeler to reduce lead exposures across the country and to provide a class of unregulated, long-lived chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl compounds ( PFAS) and pose a serious health risk to millions of Americans. However, the Agency has not yet taken final regulatory action on these proposals.
A Republican, Sen. Susan Collins from Maine, voted against Wheeler's affirmation on Thursday on the grounds that he had been working to mitigate federal regulations to reduce greenhouse gas pollution from power plants as well as weaker fuel standards for the nation's cars and pickup trucks.
"I believe that Wheeler, unlike Scott Pruitt, understands the mission of the EPA and acts according to ethical standards; However, the policy he has supported as Deputy Administrator is not in the best interest of our environment and public health, especially given the threat to our country's climate change, "said Collins, who last year supported Wheeler's confirmation as Deputy EPO Administrator An explanation.
While the Democrats initially regarded Wheeler as a pragmatic technocrat with whom they could forge a handful of political compromises, they expressed their disappointment at the key decisions he had made at the agency.
West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III. The Supreme Democrat in the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted last year to endorse Wheeler as Deputy Administrator of the EPA. He decided, however, to oppose Wheeler this time, he said, considering his desire to freeze fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and to review the cost-benefit analysis that the agency had used to set mercury exposure limits already reached by energy companies.
"As Deputy Administrator, he has shown no desire or desire to make significant progress towards clean drinking water standards, and has reduced clean air standards that directly affect West Virginians," Manchin said an explanation.
Democrats The vote used the vote as an opportunity to call for greater action on climate change. More than half a dozen senators spoke in an almost empty chamber about why the federal government should push for a greater reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. "We should say a lot that the Republicans have set up a coal lobbyist to represent the American people who run the Environmental Protection Agency," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.).
The world has already warmed more than 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial levels. According to a report by the United Nations last fall, people had to nearly halve their CO2 emissions in the coming decade to avert the catastrophic effects of climate change. This seems unlikely so far, as many countries are failing to meet the emissions targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015. Global emissions also rose in 2018.
Most Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate for the Environment and the Public Works Committee, John Barrasso (Wyo.), Said that Wheeler had relieved the industry without jeopardizing important environmental protection. Barrasso pointed out that the EPA had reduced the limits of carbon emissions from energy plans and the Federal Government's responsibility for water bodies in the United States.
"During the last term of the EPA, the EPA issued penal sanctions that would damage the economy and increase family costs. Under the leadership of Deputy Administrator Wheeler, the EPA has taken a different approach, "Barrasso said.
Industry officials told Wheeler to boost the economy by holding back what they consider to be a federal reach.
Historical Growth Construction jobs that we saw under the current government, and that would not have been possible without Andrew's leadership at the EPO, "said Jay Timmons, president and chief executive of the National Association of Manufacturers in a statement.
And Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Global Energy Institute of the US Chamber of Commerce, said Wheeler's "extensive experience" has prepared him as the US's top environmental officer.
Elizabeth Gore, vice president of political affairs at the environmental advocacy group The Defense Fund said in an e-mail Mail that Senators who cast their votes at Wheeler knew exactly what kind of choice she f aced.
"Unlike some nominees, we do not have to speculate on what Mr. Wheeler will do in office," Gore said. "From his actions as Deputy Administrator of the past eight months, we have clear evidence of his agenda: undermine the rules to limit toxic mercury, allow more smog and water pollution, and reset protection against the threat of climate change. The senators who have chosen to entrust Mr. Wheeler with our surroundings know exactly what he will do with this power.