The Latest: Dem says EPA’s Wheeler ‘as extreme’ as Pruitt

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on acting Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler (all times local):

10:32 a.m.

A top Senate Democrat is describing President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency as “just as extreme” as his predecessor.

Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler is appearing Wednesday before a Senate committee considering his nomination to head the agency.

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Democratic Sen. Tom Carper told Wheeler and other senators that Wheeler’s environmental policies in six months at the agency’s acting head were “just as extreme” as those of Scott Pruitt, who resigned last July amid ethics investigations.

Carper cited rollbacks in car mileage standards and toxic mercury emissions under Wheeler as examples of unsafe deregulation, saying they went beyond what industries themselves wanted.

Wheeler was defending his record at EPA over the chants of environmental protesters who shouted, “Shut down Wheeler.”

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9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency is describing himself as a champion of deregulation and the environment.

Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler has been leading the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned amid ethics scandals in July. He is to appear Wednesday before a Senate committee considering his nomination.

Wheeler’s prepared remarks call protecting human health and the environment his most important responsibility. He cites EPA progress cleaning up Superfund sites and other pollution, including work that was begun under the Obama administration.

Wheeler also boasts of the Trump administration’s regulatory rollbacks at the EPA, saying the administration has finished 33 major deregulatory actions.

Wheeler is expected to face questioning on the health impacts of those rollbacks and on his past lobbying work.

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12:55 a.m.

Acting Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler’s past lobbying work is expected to draw scrutiny at his confirmation hearing for the permanent post.

A Senate committee on Wednesday will consider Wheeler as President Donald Trump’s nominee for EPA administrator. Wheeler has served as the agency’s acting head since Scott Pruitt resigned in July amid allegations over Pruitt’s spending and alleged favor-seeking.

Environmental groups want senators to question Wheeler about his lobbying for coal interests and others just before he joined the EPA.

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed an ethics complaint alleging Wheeler improperly oversaw regulatory rollbacks benefiting coal and others he had lobbied for.

EPA spokesman John Konkus calls that “baseless.” Konkus says Wheeler consults closely with ethics officials at the agency.

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