President Trump says he will nominate Andrew Wheeler to be the next administrator of the EPA, an agency that Wheeler has led on an interim basis since July, The Hill reports. “He’s done a fantastic job,” Trump said Friday when making the announcement during a White House ceremony honoring Medal of Freedom recipients. Wheeler, who had become the EPA’s deputy administrator in April, took the helm of the agency over the summer after the “controversial and ethically challenged” Scott Pruitt resigned, USA Today reports. Before becoming the permanent EPA administrator, Wheeler will need Senate confirmation (which he had for his previous deputy role at the EPA). “Mr. Wheeler must come before our committee so that members can look at his record as acting administrator objectively to see if any improvements have been made,” Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat on the Senate Environmental Public Works Committee said in a statement, per The Hill.
In nominating Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, Trump would “ensure a continued deregulatory push” at the agency, per the Washington Post. The paper adds that, like Pruitt before him, Wheeler has a “zeal to deregulate.” In July he said that he “will try to work to implement the president’s agenda.” So far, that effort has reportedly included proposals to reduce or repeal limits on CO2 and methane pollution from power plants and oil and gas drillers, and rolling back vehicle fuel efficiency standards. "Putting a coal lobbyist like Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA is like giving a thief the keys to a bank vault," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune tells The Hill. (This EPA change could result in more deaths.)