After former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s resigned in July 2018, President Trump appointed Andrew Wheeler as acting administrator. In January, Trump nominated Wheeler to lead the agency. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmed Wheeler’s nomination in February, moving his confirmation to the full Senate for a future vote.
Wheeler, an environmental lawyer, formerly worked at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works and was largely focused on reducing regulations on industries that emit greenhouse gasses. Most recently, Wheeler worked for a law firm that advocates for coal giant Murray Energy Corporation and lobbied against Obama-era environmental regulations.
Under Wheeler, the EPA has proposed rolling back a number of regulations including fuel emissions standards, radiation exposure limits and water protections under the Clean Water Act.
Wheeler’s confirmation hearing was on Jan. 16. His responses to senators’ questions were largely noncommittal, and he refused to comment on the November 2018 federal climate report, stating that he “hadn’t finished being briefed on it.” Public health and environmental advocates are concerned that if he is confirmed, environmental safeguards will be further eroded. — By Jen Kirby
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb. 8, 2019, to include information about Wheeler’s confirmation by the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.