Andrew Wheeler is taking over the reigns as the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler, who used to work as a lobbyist for the coal industry, became the 15th EPA administrator after a Senate vote confirmed his appointment.
Shortly after the vote, Wheeler took to Twitter to post his thoughts on becoming the new EPA administrator. Wheeler thanked several politicians for helping him obtain the appointment and vowed to move forward with President Donald Trump’s agenda.
“I am deeply honored, and I look forward to continuing the President’s agenda and the work of the Agency alongside all my EPA colleagues,” Wheeler shared.
The Senate approved Wheeler for the spot with a narrow vote of 52-47. According to Grist, several senators who had previously supported Wheeler voted against him, because they do not believe he is committed to improving the environment. This includes Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican who voted against the appointment.
Collins later released a statement about how Wheeler is qualified for the post but is not the best option. Collins criticized Wheeler for supporting programs that do not benefit the environment, especially when it comes to climate change initiatives.
Given Wheeler’s work history, Collins has reason to worry. Wheeler is now the fourth member of Trump’s cabinet who is regulating an industry in which he used to be employed. Two years ago, Trump appointed Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, to head up the Department of Health and Human Services. Earlier this year, Patrick Shanahan of Boeing took the reigns as secretary of defense while David Bernhardt, an oil lobbyist, was nominated for the Department of Interior.
With Wheeler’s appointment now confirmed, he is expected to roll back a few Obama-era laws that were put in place to help the environment. This includes the carbon-cutting Clean Power Plan and a reworking of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule, which improved water quality around the country.
Wheeler was appointed as the new EPA administrator following the resignation of Scott Pruitt, who quit the post amid an ethics scandal last summer.