Senators approved Wheeler as the agency's deputy administrator in a 53-45 vote last April. Environmental groups quickly voiced their opposition. It's a move that could only come from a president hell-bent on rolling back public health and environmental regulations, said EWG President Ken Cook.
"If President Trump follows through on his statement today and nominates Acting Administrator Wheeler to serve in a permanent capacity, the Senate will finally have the opportunity to perform our constitutional duties to advise and consent on who gets to lead the EPA-an agency tasked with protecting human health and the environment".
"I hoped Scott Pruitt's policy dirty work would dry up after he left the EPA in disgrace, but proposals like the forthcoming rule to weaken or eliminate protections against mercury emissions make it clear Andrew Wheeler plans to continue that capture with rollbacks of vital environmental protections", Whitehouse said in a statement.
Wheeler had worked at the EPA in the 1990s and later in the Senate under Republican Senator Jim Inhofe, a skeptic of mainstream climate science, before moving to the private sector as a lobbyist and consultant.
"The flawless choice to lead the EPA", Inhofe tweeted Friday.
A former lobbyist for coal and other industries, Wheeler has a reputation as a methodical steward of the Trump administration's deregulatory mission.
The grandson of a coal miner, Wheeler told staffers in his first days as the agency's acting head this summer that he was proud of his roots in coal country.
Among these are the scrapping of anti-pollution rules for coal-fired power plants and the launch of a procedure to soften emissions standards for cars after 2025.
"Compared to Administrators Ruckelshaus or Whitman, he's not doing almost as well", Carper added.
Wheeler took the help of the agency in early July after Scott Pruitt resigned amid mounting ethics scandals. The EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.