By Lynn L. Bergeson and Christopher R. Bryant
On January 16, 2019, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to serve as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Wheeler currently serves as the Acting Administrator, having taken the reins of EPA after former Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned in July 2018. An archived webcast of the hearing is available online. In introducing Mr. Wheeler, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Chair of the EPW Committee, stated: “under Acting Administrator Wheeler’s leadership, the agency has taken a number of significant actions to protect our nation’s environment, while also supporting economic growth. Acting Administrator Wheeler has led efforts to: issue common-sense regulatory proposals, like the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, and the revised definition of ‘Waters of the United States’; implement this Committee’s 2016 bipartisan reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act [(TSCA)] in an effective and efficient manner; reduce lead exposure, including through the Federal Lead Action Plan; provide greater regulatory certainty to states, to Tribes, localities, and to the regulated community; and improve enforcement and compliance assistance. Acting Administrator Wheeler is very well qualified to run the [EPA].” Republicans on the EPW Committee were supportive of his nomination and actions while serving as the EPA Acting Administrator. They noted with praise his deregulatory efforts, the repeal and replacement of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, the proposed replacement of the Waters of the United States rule and the proposed repeal of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
Democrats on the EPW Committee, however, expressed their disapproval of Mr. Wheeler, as he faced sharp questions from them. EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) expressed his concern that Mr. Wheeler failed “to moderate some of Scott Pruitt’s most environmentally destructive policies,” adding that “upon examination, Mr. Wheeler’s environmental policies appear to be almost as extreme as his predecessor’s.” When questioned on his views on climate change by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mr. Wheeler admitted that he believed it was a “huge issue” that should be addressed internationally, but he stopped short of agreeing with it being “one of the greatest crises facing our planet.” Despite the seeming Democratic opposition to his nomination, Mr. Wheeler is expected to be approved by the EPW Committee and, eventually, the Senate, and likely soon.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Christopher R. Bryant, and Margaret R. Graham
Following through on a commitment he made in November 2018, President Trump on January 9, 2019, formally nominated Andrew Wheeler to serve as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Mr. Wheeler has served as EPA’s Acting Administrator since the resignation of Scott Pruitt in July 2018. Mr. Wheeler previously worked in the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels and was chief counsel to the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. Before his time at the Senate EPW Committee, Mr. Wheeler served in a similar capacity for six years for the Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, Wetlands, and Nuclear Safety. Mr. Wheeler completed his law degree at Washington University in St. Louis, his MBA at George Mason University, and his undergraduate work at Case Western Reserve University in English and Biology. Mr. Wheeler’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate EPW Committee is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. (EST) on January 16, 2019. It will be webcast on the EPW Committee website.
By Lynn L. Bergeson, Christopher R. Bryant, and Margaret R. Graham
In the last hours of the 115th Congress, the Senate on January 2, 2019, approved the nominations of three individuals to serve in key environmental posts:
- Alexandra Dapolito Dunn -- EPA Toxics Office: The Senate approved the nomination of Alexandra Dunn to serve as the Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP). Ms. Dunn had been serving as the administrator for EPA Region 1. She previously was executive director and general counsel for the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS). Prior to joining ECOS, Ms. Dunn served as executive director and general counsel for the Association of Clean Water Administrators. Ms. Dunn also has extensive experience in environmental education, having served as dean of Environmental Law Programs at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. In addition, she has taught at the Columbus School of Law, Catholic University of America, and, most recently, as an adjunct associate professor of law at the American University’s Washington College of Law. Ms. Dunn received a B.A. in political science from James Madison University and a J.D. from the Columbus School of Law. More information on Ms. Dunn’s confirmation hearing is available in our blog item Senate EPW Committee Holds Hearing on Nomination of Alexandra Dunn to Lead OCSPP.
- Mary Neumayr -- CEQ: The Senate also approved the nomination of Mary Neumayr to head the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). Ms. Neumayr currently serves as chief of staff for the CEQ. Prior to joining CEQ in March of 2017, she served in a variety of positions with the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Deputy Chief Counsel, energy and environment in 2017; Senior Energy Counsel from 2011 to 2017; and Counsel from 2009 to 2010. Ms. Neumayr also served as Deputy Counsel for environment and nuclear programs at the U.S. Department of Energy from 2006 to 2009, and Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the environment and natural resources division at the U.S. Department of Justice from 2003 to 2006. Prior to her government service, Ms. Neumayr was in private legal practice from 1989 to 2003. She received her B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College and her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
- Kelvin Droegemeier -- OSTP: Finally, the Senate also approved Kelvin Droegemeier to serve as the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). A meteorologist from the University of Oklahoma, Mr. Droegemeier previously served as Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s secretary of science and technology. He was also previously on the National Science Board for 12 years during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On October 25, 2017, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee confirmed the nominations of four U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials: Michael Dourson, Ph.D., for Assistant Administrator (AA) of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP); William Wehrum, Esquire, for AA of the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), Matthew Leopold, Esquire, for General Counsel, and David Ross, Esquire for AA of the Office of Water (OW). Dourson and Wehrum, the more contentiously debated nominees, were confirmed along party lines with 11 votes (Committee Republicans) to 10 (Committee Democrats). The nominees must now face a vote by the full Senate.
More information on the EPW Committee hearing held on October 4, 2017, and on the nominees is available on our blog under key word nomination.