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Trump to tap coal lobbyist, industry attorney for top EPA posts

Trump to tap coal lobbyist, industry attorney for top EPA posts
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President Trump is expected to nominate a coal lobbyist and an energy industry attorney for a pair of key posts at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sources close to the administration said Andrew Wheeler, a Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting lobbyist whose clients include coal mining company Murray Energy Corp., is in line for deputy administrator.

Bill Wehrum, a Hunton & Williams attorney, is the likely nominee for assistant administrator for air and radiation, a position whose jurisdiction includes climate change programs.

Climatewire first reported the expected nominations earlier Friday.

Wheeler, who was once an aide to Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.), was mentioned as the top contender for deputy administrator in March.

But later, Jeff Holmstead, a lawyer at Bracewell Law, emerged as the frontrunner. That sparked backlash among conservatives, who thought Holmstead was too moderate for the position.

Wehrum worked at the EPA under former President George W. Bush. He acted as head of the air office and was nominated, but Senate Democrats refused to confirm him.

In addition to climate, Wehrum would be responsible for overseeing hot-button issues regarding ozone pollution, mercury pollution and related matters.

The Washington Post reported two more planned nominations for the Trump EPA: Matt Leopold for general counsel and David Ross to be the assistant administrator for water.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is currently the only Senate-confirmed political appointee at the agency.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has approved Susan Bodine to lead the enforcement office, though the full Senate has not voted on her.

Earlier this week, Trump said he would nominate Michael Dourson, who leads an industry-backed nonprofit chemical research organization, to lead the chemical office at the EPA.