On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Senate approved four nominees for key posts at the EPA including one, who will head the agency’s office of chemical safety, with ties to the chemical industry.
Senator Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the committee, said two of the nominees gave him cause for “grave concern” Bill Wehrum, nominated for assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, and Michael Dourson to head the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
He also said that Dourson was “one of the most troubling nominees I have ever considered during my time on the committee.”
Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, whose state economy has a lot of oil business in it, the panel’s senior Republican, was very happy about the passage of the nominees and urged the Senate to confirm so they can “improve public health within the scope of the EPA’s authority.”
Republicans said that the EPA under former President Barack Obama had overstepped its authority to regulate. President Donald Trump’s EPA advisor Scott Pruitt said the agency had an “activist agenda” under Barack Obama’s administration.
Pruitt has been working to do away with rules and regulation instated and approved by the Obama administration including getting rid of the Clean Power Plan and is trying to alleviate the restrictions on emissions linked to climate change.
Pruitt had sued the agency multiple times when he was the attorney general of Oklahoma.
Jeff Holmstead, head of EPA air and radiation office under former President George W. Bush said that Wehrum is the “ideal person to shepherd Administrator Pruitt’s reforms through the regulatory process.”
Environmental activists have called upon the Senate as a whole “All four of these nominees, especially Wehrum and Durson, would accelerate Scott Pruitt’s mission to dismantle the EPA from the inside.” said Sarah Chieffo, vice president for government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters.
The other two nominees approved by the Senate today are Matthew Leopold for assistant administrator for the Office of General Counsel, and David Ross for the Office of Water.
More details to follow.