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 TrumpBiden says voters should choose who nominates Supreme Court justice Trump, Biden will not shake hands at first debate due to COVID-19 Pelosi: Trump Supreme Court pick 'threatens' Affordable Care Act 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 PruittJuan Williams: Swamp creature at the White House Science protections must be enforceable Conspicuous by their absence from the Republican Convention 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.


“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: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds Democrats push to limit transfer of military-grade gear to police Chamber of Commerce endorses McSally for reelection 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.