(August 7, 2018) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Acting Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, testified before the U.S Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on August 1, fielding a wide range of questions from Senators regarding his background, EPA’s direction, and key environmental priorities—including a request to commit to prioritizing water infrastructure. The committee generally received Mr. Wheeler more positively than his predecessor, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
Throughout his testimony Mr. Wheeler emphasized the importance of EPA providing certainty – certainty to States and local governments, certainty within EPA programs, including permitting and enforcement, and certainty in EPA’s risk communication to the public. It is anticipated that Mr. Wheeler will likely continue with most of Mr. Pruitt’s priorities, but will work more transparently and strategically and have a better relationship with Congress. To emphasize this, Mr. Wheeler fielded multiple questions from Senators about the timely release of information and transparency in Agency actions.
Mr. Wheeler was also asked if he believes that Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a serious concern and priority to the EPA. He responded by explaining that PFAS remain a priority. NACWA attended EPA’s PFAS National Leadership Summit and Engagement earlier this month and submitted comments during EPA’s recent comment period, which most likely informed his response and stance on the matter.
In the hearing, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the Committee’s ranking Democrat, said, “I am encouraged that there will be a number of differences between Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Pruitt and the ways they approach this important leadership role.”
Following the hearing, Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) issued a statement urging President Trump to nominate Mr. Wheeler to serve as EPA Administrator. The nomination would be subject to Senate approval.