Carper to Senate Republicans: Andrew Wheeler’s Nomination Should Set EPA on the Right Path

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) business meeting to consider the nomination of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the EPW Committee, urged his Republican colleagues in the Senate to slow down the process to consider the nomination of Mr. Wheeler until he commits to five “win-win” policy opportunities that strengthen protections for the environment and public health while providing certainty for industry and other stakeholders.

 As the president’s nominee, under the Federal Vacancies Act, Acting Administrator Wheeler can continue to lead EPA for 210 days. We have 183 days until the clock runs out on Acting Administrator Wheeler’s nomination – for God’s sake, with so much at stake, we need to slow it down,” Senator Carper said, reiterating his remarks during the business meeting. “Rushing to judgment and bringing the Wheeler nomination to the Senate floor would close the window of opportunity we have now to ensure the acting administrator embraces five bipartisan policies that protect our planet while enhancing economic opportunity. I’m asking my Republican colleagues in the Senate: use this time to help ensure Acting Administrator Wheeler reverses course and seizes the five bipartisan ‘win-win’ policy opportunities right in front him.”

For the video of Senator Carper’s remarks, please click HERE.

Last week, Senator Carper released Mr. Wheeler’s responses to Senator Carper’s questions for the record and highlighted five issues where Mr. Wheeler has failed to seize opportunities for policies that strengthen protections for our environment and public health while supporting economic growth and expansion. 

ON FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS: Mr. Wheeler has doubled-down on a proposal to dismantle sensible fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards. Mr. Wheeler refused to accept or acknowledge the view of both EPA career staff and the automobile industry that the Department of Transportation (DOT) analysis underpinning EPA’s so-called “SAFE Vehicles” proposal is fundamentally flawed. What’s more, Mr. Wheeler also refused to provide a requested copy of July 20, 2018 briefing materials that were prepared for him by EPA career staff that make clear the DOT safety analysis is flawed.

ON THE MATS RULE: Mr. Wheeler has sidestepped questions about the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule. Mr. Wheeler refused to admit that EPA’s actions put the foundation of the MATS rule in legal jeopardy. He did not provide any facts  that countered concerns that utilities would likely turn off installed controls if the MATS rule is removed. Mr. Wheeler acknowledged EPA used outdated data to determine whether the standards are “appropriate and necessary,” but could not provide any additional information on what led him to believe the cancer risks, risks of birth defects and risks to children’s health were not sufficient enough to determine it was “appropriate and necessary” for EPA to regulate air toxic power plant emissions.

ON THE KIGALI AMENDMENT: Mr. Wheeler will not commit to supporting the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which phases down HFCs and supports the next generation of technologies. In his responses, Mr. Wheeler refused to acknowledge that his Assistant Administrator for Office of Air and Radiation has repeatedly represented EPA in interagency meetings on Kigali ratification and has stated in those meetings that EPA opposes the submittal of the Kigali Amendment for ratification.  Mr. Wheeler also refused to release EPA’s own analysis that shows the economic benefits of Kigali ratification. 

ON METHYLENE CHLORIDE: Mr. Wheeler has an inadequate response on protecting both consumers and workers from exposure to methylene chloride. Mr. Wheeler acknowledged that this dangerous chemical can kill workers, but would not concede that EPA recently proposed a rule exempting workers from a methylene chloride ban.

ON SETTING A PFAS/PFOA DRINKING WATER STANDARD: Mr. Wheeler has failed to commit to setting a PFAS drinking water standard. Compounding reporting by Politico that EPA will not set a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, during his nomination hearing and in his written responses, Mr. Wheeler has failed to commit to setting a drinking water standard for PFAS within the next two years.