On Thursday the Senate approved Andrew Wheeler, former coal champion, to lead the Environment Agency with 52-47 votes, raising a veteran of political and industrial circles in Washington, who encouraged President Trump to restrain the Obama era's environmental regulations.
Wheeler, who began his career at the EPA in the 1990s, spent years in front of Capitol Hill before moving to the private sector, won Republican praise for his deregulation agenda, but criticized the Democrats for refusing climate change and many public health measures. priorities. He leads the agency as Trump's first CEO, Scott Pruitt, retired in July due to management and a number of scandals related to spending. Trump said in November that he wanted to mark Wheeler as the best job, saying he was doing a "fantastic job" in his temporary role.
At a confirmatory hearing in January, Wheeler set out dozens of significant rules that the EPA has begun to pull back over the past two years and has made it clear to legislators that they want to continue reversing the environmental regulation of Trump.
"With our deregulation measures, the Trump administration has proven that no cumbersome federal regulation is needed for environmentally conscious development," Wheeler said. "Innovation is a key to development in a climate of security and trust."
Despite the fact that bicycles retreat, Wheeler EPA has set up initiatives to reduce leading exposure across the country and to oversee unregulated, durable, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl. compounds or PFASs that are a serious health condition. the risk of millions of Americans. However, the Agency does not yet have to take definitive regulatory measures on these proposals.
A Republican, Susan Collins, Maine, Wheeler, confirmed on Thursday, on the grounds that federal rules were being used to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and to weaken national car and truck fuel standards.
“I think Mr. Wheeler, unlike Scott Pruitt, understands EPA's mission and acts according to ethical standards; however, the administrators he supports do not meet the best interests of our environment and public health, especially the threat of climate change for our nation, ”said Collins, who last year supported Wheeler's EPA Deputy. resolution.
While the Democrats initially regarded Wheeler as pragmatic technocrats, with whom they could form some political compromises, they were disappointed by the key decisions made by the agency.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin III, Supreme Democrat of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, voted last year to strengthen Wheeler's EPA Deputy Director. But this time, he decided to oppose Wheeler, in the light of his efforts to curb the fuel efficiency standards of the vehicle and in reviewing the cost-benefit analysis, the agency has already limited mercury pollution.
"As managing director, he did not show a desire or will to make any clear progress in clean drinking water standards and pulled back clean air standards that directly affect the West Virginien," Manchin said in a statement.
The Democrats used the vote to ask for more action against climate change, with more than half a dozen senators speaking with an almost empty chamber about why the federal government should press for a more steep reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. "We have to say a lot to the Republicans that they are a coal lobbyist to represent the people of America and lead the Environment Agency," said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
The world has been warming up to more than 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial levels, and according to a UN report last fall, people will have to cut their carbon footprint by almost half in the next decade to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. So far, this seems unlikely, as many countries are unable to meet their emission targets as part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Global emissions also increased in 2018.
But most Republicans, including President of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, John Barrasso (Wyo.), Said Wheeler to relieve the burden on industry without undermining key environmental standards. Barrasso pointed out that the EPA is seeking to curb the limits on carbon emissions from electricity plans and the jurisdiction of the federal government in US river basins.
"During the last administration, the EPA issued criminal rules that could hurt the economy and increase family costs. Under the leadership of Wheeler Managing Director, EPA has taken a different approach, said Barrasso.
Industry officials have approved Wheeler to help the economy prevent federal overload.
"Regulatory certainty has been a key factor in the growth of historical manufacturing work in the current administrative work, and it would not have been possible without Andrew's leadership in EPA," said Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Manufacturing Association. statement.
And Karen Harbert, President and CEO of the Global Energy Institute of the United States Chamber of Commerce, said Wheeler's "extensive experience" prepared him to serve as the nation's leading environmental officer.
Elizabeth Gore, Senior Vice President, Environmental Protection Fund Stakeholder Group, said in an e-mail that the senators who voted on Wheeler knew exactly what they had chosen.
"Unlike some candidates, we don't have to speculate on what he does in Mr. Wheeler's office," Gore said. "There has been clear evidence from our agents over the past eight months about their agenda: undermining the rules on limiting toxic mercury, more smog and water pollution, and pushing down the protection against the threat of climate change. The senators who voted to entrust Mr. Wheeler with our environment know exactly what he will do with this power.