Environmental protection

Senate confirms Andrew Wheeler as EPA administrator

Andrew Wheeler
Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Senate has voted 52-47, mostly along party lines, to confirm former coal lobbyist and current acting EPA administrator to permanently head up the agency.

Why it matters: Wheeler has acknowledged climate change is a problem, though he doesn't consider it a priority at EPA and is rolling back or freezing many of the regulations that address it. His predecessor Scott Pruitt more outspokenly dismissed mainstream climate science. Wheeler has served as acting administrator of the EPA since July, and came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearing for attributing increased wildfires in California to forest management, rather than climate change-induced drought.

Go deeper: Meet the former coal lobbyist replacing Scott Pruitt

House approves extensive conservation package

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park. Photo: Doug LemkeGetty Images

House lawmakers passed a public lands conservation measure on Tuesday that will add more than 1 million acres of new wilderness, restore a conservation program funneling offshore drilling revenue to land conservation, and establish new national monuments to honor civil rights activists and Civil War soldiers.

The details: The House voted 363-62 to push the package through, just two weeks after the Senate approved the measure by 92-8. The bill will head to the White House for President Trump’s signature. This is viewed as a notable bipartisan victory for environmentalists at a time when the Trump administration is vigorously rolling back public land protections in favor of coal and big oil.

Go deeper: The outdoors vs. Trump

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