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Trump Pledges To Nominate Andrew Wheeler As EPA Head, Some Senate Democrats Promise To Oppose

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Andrew Wheeler (center) is likely President Trump's nominee for EPA Administrator.

President Trump has pledged to nominate the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency as it’s next permanent head, a move that some Senate Democrats have promised to oppose.

Andrew Wheeler is currently the EPA’s acting administrator. He first took over the reins after his boss, Scott Pruitt, resigned in July amidst ethic scandals.

“He’s changed the tone of the EPA,” said Sam Kalen, an environmental policy expert from the University of Wyoming.

He said Wheeler will continue to push Trump’s pro-energy development agenda but with a little less flair and controversy.

“We can probably expect that he’s going to be a little bit more methodical and careful than Administrator Pruitt was,” Kalen said.

Under the Trump administration, the EPA scrapped the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and proposed relaxing fuel emission standards for vehicles. Environmentalists argue the agency now caters to oil, gas and coal companies.

Wheeler worked as a coal lobbyist before joining the EPA.

Trump has yet to submit Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate.

In a statement, Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, said he opposed Wheeler’s original nomination to become deputy administrator of the EPA.

“I recognize that Mr. Wheeler has restored some basic, bare-minimum transparency measures to the agency, and that he acknowledges the importance of communication with Congress,” Udall said. “But that’s not nearly enough to show me that his leadership at EPA will truly put American’s health and safety first, and not the bottom lines of corporate polluters.”

Trump announced the nomination during a White House ceremony and said Wheeler has done a “fantastic job” as the EPA’s acting administrator.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado

Nate Hegyi is the Utah reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, based at KUER. He covers federal land management agencies, indigenous issues, and the environment. Before arriving in Salt Lake City, Nate worked at Yellowstone Public Radio, Montana Public Radio, and was an intern with NPR's Morning Edition. He received a master's in journalism from the University of Montana.
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