Trump officially nominates acting chief Andrew Wheeler to EPA administrator

PHOTO: Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler addresses staff at EPA headquarters in Washington, July 11, 2018.PlayTing Shen/Reuters, FILE
WATCH Who is Andrew Wheeler?

President Donald Trump has officially nominated Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to take on the position permanently.

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In a statement, Wheeler said he is "honored and grateful" for the nomination.

“For me, there is no greater responsibility than protecting human health and the environment, and I look forward to carrying out this essential task on behalf of the American public.”

PHOTO: Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, arrives on stage with President Donald Trump during the White House State Leadership Day conference in Washington, Oct. 23, 2018.Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, arrives on stage with President Donald Trump during the White House State Leadership Day conference in Washington, Oct. 23, 2018.

Wheeler took over as acting administrator from his deputy role after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned amid a growing list of ethical scandals. He has continued to pursue Trump's agenda of rolling back environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration.

Environmental groups have criticized Wheeler for what they say are conflicts of interest, saying that he lobbied for regulated industries like coal companies and pursued policies that benefit them since he took over at the agency.

Though Wheeler was confirmed by the Senate before he became deputy administrator, he will have to face questions about the agency's decisions over the last two years again before he can transition from acting to full administrator.

Wheeler's hearing comes as Democrats in the House have promised to hold oversight hearings of EPA's decisions over the last two years and perceived ethical lapses by Pruitt and other high ranking officials.

A hearing on Wheeler's confirmation is scheduled for January 16.

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