Protestors at Wheeler's first hearing call him a 'Pruitt puppet'

Protestors at Wheeler's first hearing call him a 'Pruitt puppet'
© Anna Moneymaker

A group of protestors attending Andrew Wheeler's first Senate hearing on Wednesday likened the newly appointed acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator to his predecessor, Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittGovernment watchdog probing EPA’s handling of Hurricane Harvey response Wheeler won’t stop America’s addiction to fossil fuels Overnight Energy: Trump rolls back methane pollution rule | EPA watchdog to step down | China puts tariffs on US gas MORE.

The group of protestors silently held up signs calling Wheeler a "Pruitt puppet." They were promptly asked to leave without incident.

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Wheeler has lead the EPA for less than a month following the exit of Pruitt, who resigned in early July after a number of scandals related to his spending and questions about his ethics.

While Wheeler has taken strides to distinguish himself from the former administrator — such as reversing a Pruitt policy that the EPA wouldn’t enforce Obama-era limits on certain highly polluting big trucks known as glider trucks — many skeptics question Wheeler's ties to the oil and gas industry. For years, he worked as a lobbyist for the energy industry.

The Senate confirmed Wheeler in April to be deputy administration in a mostly party-line vote of 53-45. The Environment and Public Works Committee had earlier advanced his nomination on an 11-10 party-line vote.