Scott Pruitt

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

EPA criminal action against polluters hits 30-year low

Radioactive sign.
Photo: Vitaliy Holovin/Corbis via Getty images

The Environmental Protection Agency hit a 30-year low last year in the number of pollution cases it referred for criminal prosecution, Justice Department data shows.

Details: The 166 cases referred for prosecution in the last fiscal year is the lowest number since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was president, according to the AP. The data was obtained by the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).