Senate confirms Wheeler as EPA administrator

By Erin Voegele | February 28, 2019

On Feb. 28, the U.S. Senate voted 52 to 46 along party lines to confirm Andrew Wheeler as administrator of the U.S. EPA. Wheeler has held the post of acting EPA administrator since July 9, 2018, following Scott Pruitt’s resignation earlier that month. 

Trump nominated Wheeler to serve as EPA administrator in January. Prior to taking over as acting administrator, Wheeler served as deputy administrator of the agency. The Senate approved his appointment for that post on April 12, 2018 by a vote of 53 to 45.

Information released by the White House in October 2017 indicates Wheeler previously served as a principal and head of the energy and environment team at Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting. Prior to joining Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, he worked at the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for 14 years serving in various roles, including as the majority and minority staff director and chief counsel. He began his career at the EPA as a special assistant in the toxics office where he received three bronze medals.

The Renewable Fuels Association has spoken out to congratulate Wheeler on his Senate confirmation. “RFA looks forward to continuing to work with him to implement a strong Renewable Fuel Standard, make year-around E15 a reality and to repair the damage done as a result of the unprecedented number of small refiner waivers granted by his predecessor,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the RFA.

Growth Energy also released a statement congratulating Wheeler. “As the head of EPA, Administrator Wheeler can improve our emissions regulations to encourage competition and innovation, and give American drivers access to affordable and renewable fuel choices,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “That starts with following through on the president’s commitment to allow E15 sales year-round on June 1 or sooner.

“The previous administrator granted an unprecedented number of refinery exemptions under the RFS, destroying demand for billions of gallons of U.S. ethanol,” Skor continued. “Administrator Wheeler must work quickly to repair that damage to the rural economy and restore more than 2 billion gallons of lost biofuel demand.

“We look forward to continuing our work with EPA on these priorities and more to ensure a bright future for America and homegrown biofuels,” Skor said.

The American Coalition for Ethanol also offered congratulations to Wheeler and encouraged him to take action on E15. “We congratulate Andrew Wheeler on his confirmation to formally lead EPA and encourage him to expeditiously release a legally-defensible rulemaking for E15 use year-round and recommit to finalizing the rule by the June 1 summer driving season,” said Brian Jennings, CEO of ACE. “There are less than 100 days until June 1, leaving no time for EPA to waste in publishing a proposed rule in the Federal Register for public comment and to finalize the rule before the low-RVP season kicks-in. We restate our recommendation that EPA decouple potential renewable identification number (RIN) reforms from the E15 rulemaking.”