EPA Administrator’s Nomination Moves to Full Senate

February 6, 2019

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has voted out the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the next EPA administrator. The vote was along party lines, with unanimous support from the Committee’s 11 Republicans, and unanimous opposition by its10 Democrats. A floor vote on the nomination by the full Senate has not been scheduled, but it is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Wheeler has been EPA’s acting administrator since July, after former administrator Scott Pruitt resigned. Wheeler, who has continued Pruitt and President Trump’s aggressive deregulatory agenda, drew praise from the panel’s Republicans, including for EPA’s proposed freeze on increasing miles-per-gallon fuel standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020.

During his confirmation hearing, Wheeler focused on the recent successful agency projects, such as cleaning up 22 Superfund sites and a proposal to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from heavy-duty trucks.

Democratic Senators criticized Wheeler for not addressing climate change during his confirmation hearing, including failing to be briefed on the results of the Fourth National Climate Assessment. Democrats are expected to focus heavily on the environment this year, with a “Green New Deal” expected to be unveiled in the House over the next week.

In addition to voting out Wheeler’s nomination, the Committee voted along the same lines to advance attorney Peter Wright to lead EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, the office responsible for the Superfund program and emergency responses to toxic spills and discharges. Wright recently served as counsel to Monsanto before its acquisition last year, and previously spent much of his career at Dow Chemical Co.