Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins announced today that she will oppose the confirmation of Andrew Wheeler to become Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Her full statement follows:
“After careful consideration, I have decided to oppose the confirmation of Andrew Wheeler, the nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“While Mr. Wheeler is certainly qualified for this position, I have too many concerns with the actions he has taken during his tenure as Acting Administrator to be able to support his promotion. I believe that Mr. Wheeler, unlike Scott Pruitt, understands the mission of the EPA and acts in accordance with ethical standards; however, 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.
“I met at length with Mr. Wheeler, and we discussed many important environmental issues about which I care deeply—from EPA’s enforcement of landmark environmental laws to greenhouse gas emissions and mercury pollution. Since last August, the EPA has proposed to roll back environmental protections, including determining it is no longer “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury emissions from power plants, halting efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks, and replacing the Clean Power Plan.
“These efforts are of great importance to the state of Maine, which is located at the end of our nation’s ‘air pollution tailpipe’ and is on the receiving end of pollution generated by coal-fired power plants in other states. Moreover, there is no doubt that the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change pose a significant threat to our state’s economy and our natural resources, from our working forests, fishing, and agricultural industries, to tourism and recreation.
“Reducing harmful air pollutants is critical for public health, particularly for Maine which has among the highest rates of asthma in the country. In Maine, cars, trucks, and other vehicles produce more than 50 percent of our state’s greenhouse gas emissions. Controls for mercury, one of the most persistent and dangerous pollutants, are especially important for children and pregnant women. The Agency’s recent efforts to halt progress in these critical areas takes us in the wrong direction.
“In keeping with my past practice, I will vote to allow the full Senate to consider Mr. Wheeler’s nomination so that every Senator can have a clear, up or down vote on this important nomination of a member of the President’s Cabinet.
“However, due to the actions Mr. Wheeler has taken during his tenure at the EPA, I will vote against his confirmation.”