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Trump nominates Wheeler to be permanent EPA chief

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler to permanently lead the agency.

Wheeler took over in July when Scott Pruitt resigned under a cloud of ethics questions. The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm him, given that the chamber is controlled by fellow Republicans.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., told reporters he plans to hold a confirmation hearing for Wheeler next week.

The announcement is not a surprise. Trump said in mid-November that he intended to nominate the former lobbyist for fossil fuel interests. He became deputy administrator in April.

Wheeler has continued the administration’s efforts to dismantle Obama-era environmental policies, including fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for cars and light trucks, but is widely considered more skilled than his predecessor at implementing changes.

“Andrew Wheeler has been a very effective leader at EPA. He is committed to protecting the environment and has the respect of the career staff, but he is also committed to undoing the regulatory overreach that occurred under the Obama administration,” Jeff Holmstead, a former EPA air administrator and partner at government relations firm Bracewell, said in a statement.

“Unlike many past Administrators, he is also a true regulatory and policy expert. He understands how the regulatory process works and the type of effort that is required to develop effective and legally defensible regulatory reforms.”

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