While Acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler met Wednesday with his old boss, Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, he was officially nominated by President Trump to be the person to succeed former administrator Scott Pruitt.
Sen. Inhofe took note of the timing of the announcement with a tweet that stated:
Thanks for stopping by the office
@EPAAWheeler. I am thrilled @POTUS nominated him to serve officially as EPA Administrator today. I have confidence Andrew will continue to advance a deregulatory agenda that protects the environment w/o placing needless burdens on job creators.”
Sen. Inhofe and other Republicans on the Hill indicated immediately they will waste no time in moving ahead with Wheeler’s confirmation.
A hearing will be held next week by the Senate Energy and Public Works Committee, of which Inhofe is a senior Republican member and former chairman. It’s expected that Wheeler will be questioned deeply by Democrats on the Committee.
Republicans praised the nomination but Democrats had a different response. Politico reported that Bracewell partner and former EPA Administrator Jeff Holmstead predicted Wheeler would be confirmed.
“Although the Democrats don’t always agree with him, they like and respect him,” said Holmstead in a statement.
One left-leaning group, Center for American Progress was critical of the timing of the announcement during the partial shutdown of the government.
“Wheeler should not be allowed to interview for promotion while his staff goes unpaid,” said Christy Goldfuss, a spokeswoman with the Center.
The Sierra Club also had a negative response, pointing out that an expected release of Wheeler’s emails could be fuel for his critics on the Senate committee. The emails cannot be released until the government is fully reopened.
The hearing was set by chairman John Barrasso for Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. Washington time.