Trump indicates he might formally tap Wheeler to lead EPA

Trump indicates he might formally tap Wheeler to lead EPA
© Anna Moneymaker

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he will 'temporarily hold off' on declaring Mexican drug cartels as terror organization House Judiciary Committee formally receives impeachment report Artist behind gold toilet offered to Trump sells banana duct-taped to a wall for 0,000 MORE indicated Tuesday that he might nominate current acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Andrew Wheeler to be the agency’s official head.

Wheeler was nominated and confirmed by the Senate to be deputy administrator and took over the top job on an acting basis in July when former head Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Rate of new endangered species listings falls | EPA approves use of 'cyanide bombs' to protect livestock | Watchdog says EPA didn't conduct required analyses EPA didn't conduct required analyses of truck engine rule: internal watchdog Is Big Oil feeling the heat? MORE resigned amid spending and ethics scandals.

But at a White House event Tuesday, Trump said he might want Wheeler to be able to drop the “acting” title.

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“He’s acting, but he’s doing well, right? So maybe he won’t be so acting so long,” Trump said when calling Wheeler up to the stage at the State Leadership Day Conference.

“Especially if he gets this done,” he said, going on to explain an issue that a Texas port has had in getting permits to dredge their port facilities.

Wheeler was a lobbyist and consultant at Faegre Baker Daniels for many energy clients, including coal miner Murray Energy Corp., before taking the EPA job earlier this year. Prior to that, he worked for Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East Pentagon official: 'Possible' more US troops could be deployed to Middle East MORE (R-Okla.) and as a career employee at EPA.

Wheeler is limited to 210 days as acting EPA administrator. But a legal provision that applies specifically to EPA might give him the ability to stay in the position longer if needed.

He would have to go through another Senate confirmation process if Trump wanted him to take the administrator job on a nonacting basis.