N.H. lawmakers oppose Wheeler’s appointment

Democrats voice disapproval of new EPA Administrator

Andrew Wheeler’s Senate appointment to head the EPA on Feb. 28 by a 52 to 47 vote received opposition from every Democratic senator, including both from New Hampshire.

Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen issued statements following the vote that opposed Wheeler’s environmental record, including the PFA policy he announced Feb. 14 in accordance with the agency’s PFA Action Plan.

Hassan said, “Former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler’s record of putting big oil and corporate special interests before the health of our people, economy, and environment makes him completely unfit to continue leading the EPA. During his time as Acting EPA Administrator, Mr. Wheeler has undermined efforts to combat climate change, gutted critical protections for our air and water, and failed to act with the urgency needed to address PFAS water contamination. I am disappointed that today’s vote did not yield the results that the American people deserve, but I will continue working to protect our environment for generations to come.”

Sheehan noted, “Under Acting Administrator Wheeler’s tenure, EPA has not only failed to respond to the climate change emergency, the agency has taken actions that risk exacerbating the effects we’re already seeing. From weakening the Clean Power Plan, to his disregard for climate science, to his clear conflicts of interest as a former fossil fuel lobbyist, Acting Administrator Wheeler’s priorities and actions are inconsistent with the policies we need to protect our environment and ensure clean drinking water for our families. For these reasons, I opposed his confirmation.”

Shaheen also criticized the EPA’s PFAS Management Plan for its failure to immediately establish Maximum Contaminant Levels to two PFA chemicals. “The plan falls short of delivering the certainty that families impacted by PFAS exposure need and deserve. Without a commitment to develop enforceable drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, there’s no certainty that this strategy will sufficiently confront the challenges PFAS pose to states and affected communities.”

Hassan said, “It is totally unacceptable that the EPA is once again delaying setting an enforceable drinking water standard. Nearly a year ago, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt promised action on setting an enforceable drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS contaminants, yet now the EPA is saying our communities will have to wait almost another full year before the EPA will even decide whether it will set a drinking water standard.”

PFAS are man-made chemicals that can lead to adverse health effects due to exposure. They have been found in water at the Pease Air Force base in Portsmouth and at Saint-Gobain plant in Merrimack.

In his statement at the PFAS Action Plan event, Wheeler stated that the EPA will establish MCLs for the two PFAS, but he didn’t offer a date. The EPA stated it is “moving forward with the MCL process outlined in the Safe Water Drinking Act and will propose regulatory determination by the end of the year.”

Pres. Trump named Wheeler acting EPA Administrator July 5, 2018 to replace Scott Pruitt, who resigned in the face of numerous ethical investigations.

He was supported by every Republican at the February 28 Senate vote except Susan Collins of Maine, who said, “Due to the actions Mr. Wheeler has taken during his tenure at the EPA, I will vote against his confirmation. The policies he has supported as acting administrator are not in the best interest of our environment and public health, particularly given the threat of climate change to our nation.”