WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday confirmed Andrew R. Wheeler as the Environmental Officer's administrator who oversees the country's air and water to a former coal lobbyist and spicy Washington insider.
The confirmation formalized a role Mr. Wheeler has had a working capacity since the summer, when President Trump's first administrator, Scott Pruitt, resigned in connection with several ethical inquiries.
The poll, 52-47, went mainly along parties and emphasized partisan divisions over the Trump administration's continued commitment to lifting environmental regulations under Mr. Wheeler.
"The policies he has supported as a working administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health, especially given the threat of climate change to our nation," Senator Collins said.
Almost eight months after taking over the lead role of Mr. Pruitt, who was known for his great state, said analysts that Mr. Wheeler had changed the agency, but virtually no political difference from his predecessor.
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Jonathan H. Adler, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, characterized Mr. Wheelers software style and willingness to listen to criticism as genuine. But he said, "It won't mean that his priorities suddenly go away or that he will suddenly leave the regulatory philosophy that the top administration has taken."
"This is an administration that would like to reduce the overall legislative footprint of the federal government," said nobles nobles.
Republicans said they were happy to discover Mr. Wheeler is just as excited about lifting environmental regulations and promoting coal as Mr Pruitt was and looking at him to cement Mr. Trump's legacy that wars against what they see as regulatory overreach.
"He has been a very solid follow-up to Scott Pruitt." said Michael McKenna, a republican energy lab. "He's been through a pretty aggressive way on everything Scott started."
Mr. Wheeler has moved to dramatically weaken two of former President Obama's climate change signatures, cutting power from power plants and cars, while proposing making new coal-fired power plants easier to approve.
He has also attempted to settle the legal justification to curb toxic mercury emissions from power plants, limit federal protection of small waterways and dismiss a panel of independent scientific advisers.
Some of the most impacts of the climate are expected to be completed in the coming months. It is likely to affect a bar of lawsuits by democratic governments and environmentalists who have pledged to fight the recall.
Mary D. Nichols, head of California's Air Quality Agency, said she had experienced first-hand dissonance between Mr. Wheeler's behavior and his actions.
By the spring of 2018, the relationship between the state and the Trump administration had made a low point in the midst of a sweep over California's right to impose car emission standards more stringently than those imposed by the federal government. Mr. Pruitt had virtually no engagement with Mrs Nichols. At one point, she asked him on Twitter to "call me maybe ?"
So approx. a week after Mr. Pruit's resignation, when Mr. Wheeler called her office at the California Air Resources Board, Mrs Nichols said she was encouraged.
"He wanted to make sure I knew he should be more open and accessible than his predecessor was," said Mrs. Nichols. Nevertheless, the negotiations continued to stagnate.
"Everyone was polite, it was a welcome change," she said. "But there was no difference in politics."
The White House announced last week that E.P.A. and the Department of Transportation had terminate talks with California over its clean air call. The movement signaled that the administration is closer to completing its rule of rolling back exhaust standards introduced during President Barack Obama, and will certainly try to revoke California's ability to impose its own pollution rules.
"I suppose I don't find him significantly different from Scott Pruitt in his policies or the mission he has undertaken," Nichols said. "The only difference is really that he is more polished and more professional to handle."
About climate change, Mr. Wheeler also took a calibrated tone that is in contrast to his policies.
Unlike Mr. Mr Pruitt, who went on television to say that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to global warming and rising global temperatures can be good for humanity, Mr. Wheeler in the Senate confirmation panel in January that "climate change is real." He assessed his concern over the climate changed on a scale of 1 to 10 in an eight or nine.
Two weeks later, however, he appointed John Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, who has testified that the land will benefit from more planet-warming emissions to an influential EPA scientific advisory board.
And asked if he intended to work with Congress to complete a ban on chlorpyrifos – an insecticide for developmental delays and cognitive impairments in children, such as Mr. Pruitt, acting against EPA's own chemicals safety experts, chose not to remove from use – Mr. Wheeler assured lawmakers in a written statement that the Agency was "required to fully evaluate this pesticide using the best available science."
Yet the agency under Mr. Wheelers management already challenged a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to ban the pesticide. This month, the court decided on the challenge and ordered a new hearing in the case.
E.P.A. officials did not respond to a request for comment on this article.
Mr. Adler said that Mr. Wheeler's experience in Washington has helped him avoid raising red flags within lawmakers. But in the end he said that Mr. Wheeler is committed to meeting the President's agenda.
"There is a tendency to assume that anyone is reasonable to agree with you," Adler said. "Wheeler has a very conservative view of environmental regulation and how to handle it and is highly in line with this administration's overall regulatory philosophy."
Emily Cochrane helped report.
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