Trump to nominate acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as permanent chief

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arrives on stage with President Donald Trump during the White House State Leadership Day conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. 

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arrives on stage with President Donald Trump during the White House State Leadership Day conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. 

Andrew Wheeler will be nominated to permanently lead the Environmental Protection Agency, President Donald Trump said Friday.

Wheeler, 53, has served as the acting head of the EPA since his predecessor, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, resigned under a cloud of ethics investigations in July.

Trump made the announcement at the White House while welcoming various administration officials before awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to seven people.

Trump introduced Wheeler as the “acting administrator who, I will tell you, is usually going to be made permanent. He’s done a fantastic job, in addition to I want to congratulate him.”

Even before Pruitt stepped down, conservatives in addition to Republican lawmakers were tipping Wheeler, a longtime Washington insider in addition to lobbyist for the coal industry, to take over for his embattled boss. Wheeler was confirmed as the deputy administrator just three months before Pruitt’s departure.

Wheeler is usually likely to face a charged in addition to highly partisan Senate confirmation hearing. Only three Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota in addition to Joe Donnelly of Indiana — supported Wheeler’s confirmation to be the EPA’s No. 2 official. Both Manchin in addition to Heitkamp represent states with major fossil fuel interests.

Heitkamp lost her race against Republican Kevin Cramer inside midterm elections, in addition to Donnelly was ousted in his race against Republican Mike Braun.

Though Democrats will likely grill Wheeler when he comes before the Senate, he would likely face an easier path to confirmation if his hearing takes place next year, when the fresh Congress using a larger GOP majority inside chamber takes over.

Wheeler has continued to execute Trump’s campaign to roll back energy in addition to environmental regulations put in place by President Barack Obama.

Among those deregulation efforts, Wheeler is usually overseeing the agency’s overhaul of rules meant to cut greenhouse gas emissions via power plants in addition to its effort alongside the Transportation Department to cancel plans to enhance fuel efficiency standards for autos.

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