EPA’s Wheeler Faces Confirmation Hearing Before Senate Environment Panel
WASHINGTON – Andrew Wheeler faces a Senate panel confirmation hearing Wednesday for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, after a six-month tenure as acting administrator that was marked by the rollback of environmental and public health protections.
Wheeler, a former top lobbyist for the chemical and coal industries, has overseen the steady repeal of major air and water pollution and climate change initiatives of the Obama administration. EWG President Ken Cook said he has given the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ample reason to reject him.
“There are plenty of people President Trump could nominate to run the EPA who would take environmental and public health protection seriously. Andrew Wheeler just isn’t one of them,” said Cook. “Whether in his time as a top coal lobbyist or his short but destructive tenure at EPA, Wheeler’s record of ruthlessly promoting the agenda of polluters at the expense of human health disqualifies him to lead the agency.”
Since taking over as the acting head of the EPA, Wheeler has presided over the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the Mercury Rule and the Waters of the U.S. Rule. He is fighting a federal court ruling requiring the agency to ban the brain-damaging pesticide chlorpyrifos.
He is largely ignoring the updated chemicals law passed by Congress in 2016 by allowing a number of highly toxic chemicals, including asbestos, to remain in use. Just last week, Wheeler proposed to keep legal the use of methylene chloride, a paint-stripping chemical so dangerous it has killed 50 Americans in recent decades.
“Wheeler was given the opportunity to ban a brain-damaging pesticide and a lethal paint stripping chemical and didn’t do it,” said Cook. “Those were two of the lowest bars ever set for the head of EPA, and he could not clear either of them.”
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.