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 Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president 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 PruittEnvironmentalists renew bid to overturn EPA policy barring scientists from advisory panels Six states sue EPA over pesticide tied to brain damage Overnight Energy: Trump EPA looks to change air pollution permit process | GOP senators propose easing Obama water rule | Green group sues EPA over lead dust rules 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 InhofeSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Democrats, environmentalists blast Trump rollback of endangered species protections Bottom Line 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.