A Virginia Senate panel voted against Andrew Wheeler, a Trump administration Environmental Protection Agency head and coal-lobbyist, from being elected to the state’s top environmental post.
Wheeler was first elected by the new Republican Governor to serve as the state secretary of natural resources. Glenn YoungkinHuffpost reported that the nomination was made in January. This prompted immediate outrage from conservation groups and state Democrats who control his Senate panel.
Today, Democrats dealt a major blow to Governor Youngkin’s efforts to implement his dangerous agenda. They took the first steps to reject the far-right nominee for Secretary of Natural Resources from Trump. Gianni SnidleAs The Virginian-Pilot reported,
The panel voted against Wheeler by nine votes to six. They removed Wheelers name off a Youngkins Cabinet picks list, and then voted to approve the rest of the Cabinet.
However, this doesn’t mean Wheeler cannot still win the nomination. All it would take to get Wheeler’s name back on the resolution is one Democrat and one Republican to do so. Democrat Joe Morrissey (who does not sit on this committee) had previously indicated that he would support Wheeler for the post, but has not commented on the latest developments. Youngkin could also offer. WheelerThe Washington Post explained that a different position was taken by the administration and does not require Senate approval.
After Scott Pruitt’s resignation, Wheeler was appointed EPA administrator. As such, he was instrumental in the repeal of several environmental regulations, including one that limits chemicals allowed in coal-plant wastewater and another that controls industrial pollution.
His NominationMore than 150 EPA employees and dozens of environmental groups, including AFGE Council 238, the EPA staff union, sent letters to Senators, as HuffPost reported. More than 130 Wheelers former colleagues from the EPA as well as other organizations did write a counter letter defending Wheelers.
Youngkin spokeswoman also reiterated her support for the nomination, even after the committee’s decision.
Andrew Wheeler is a highly qualified individual who has a strong background in natural resources and issues that are critical to Virginians, Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay porter said Tuesday, as The Washington Post reported. The governor is disappointed that the committee chose partisan politics over the appointment of an experienced public servant who would prioritize cleaning the James River and Chesapeake Bay.
Environmental groups, however, argued Wheeler was an extreme choice.
Wheeler, the former head of EPA, did nothing more than cater for corporate polluter interests, time and again. This was according to Michael Town, executive Director of the Virginia League of Conservation Voters. HuffPost reported. This nomination, by far, is the most extreme in Virginia’s history for an environmental post and the worst the Governor-elect could have made.