Virginia Democrats brace for rare confirmation fight against Wheeler

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Former Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerOvernight Energy & Environment – Virginia Prepares To Fight Trump Era Official Virginia Democrats Prepare For Rare Confirmation Fight Against Wheeler Overnight Energy & Environment – Youngkin Appoints Trump EPA Leader MORE, governor of Virginia elected Glenn youngkinGlenn YoungkinOvernight Energy & Environment – Virginia braces to fight Trump-era official Virginia Democrats brace for rare confirmation fight against Wheeler Democrats hail Biden for calling Trump MORE(R) ‘s candidate for Secretary of State for Natural Resources could be in a battle for confirmation from the Democratic majority in the state Senate.

Although Republicans regained control of the state House of Delegates in the November election, Democrats retain a two-vote majority in the state Senate. Confirmatory fights are rare in the legislature, but Wheeler’s record at the EPA has made him a lightning rod among conservationists.

At the EPA, Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, relaxed a number of environmental regulations, particularly those relating to greenhouse gas emissions, and sought to push forward rules limiting the use of studies scientists who did not make all of their data public.

Despite the approval of the old President TrumpDonald Trump Ron Johnson to run for reelection: On the Money reports – US reports weak job growth to end 2021 Jan. 6 president says panel will travel this month to ask Pence to testify MOREYoungkin largely kept him at bay during the Virginia governorship campaign, even though his opponent, the former governor. Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeOvernight Energy & Environment – Virginia braces to fight Trump-era officials Virginia Democrats brace for rare confirmation fight with Wheeler Democrats hail Biden for calling Trump MORE (D), sought to combine the two. In an interview on Friday, Virginia State Senator Lynwood Lewis (D) said Wheeler’s appointment sends the wrong message on this front.

“I think we would all be better served, especially the governor-elect, if we put the Trump years behind us and start moving forward,” Lewis told The Hill. “And that just sends a very disturbing message at the start of [Youngkin’s] administration.”

“The Trump administration was not necessarily environmentally sensitive or friendly. [Wheeler] was the spearhead of these efforts. And so, having it come to Virginia is something that concerns us all here, ”he said.

When asked if the caucus had the votes to defeat the nomination, Lewis replied, “We are doing it.”

Lewis is one of four Virginia State Senate Democrats who have at times broken away from caucus but have expressed concerns about Wheeler, suggesting House Democrats would likely be united in any effort to defeat his nomination , according to at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Others aren’t so sure what will happen, with State Senator Scott Surovell, Deputy Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, saying The New York Times Thursday he did not know if the votes were there to defeat the nomination.

Youngkin “basically named a guy whose job it is to enforce a bunch of laws he’s spent his entire career in,” Surovell told The Hill in an interview.

“Virginia has gone from one of the lagging states in environmental compliance to one of the leading states,” and “Wheeler has shown from his record that he does not appear to have any interest” in pursuing this work, he added.

Virginia lawmakers won’t officially return to Richmond until next Wednesday, Surovell said, and the Democratic caucus has yet to formally meet to strategize on the nomination.

Virginia cabinet candidates, unlike their federal counterparts, must pass both houses of the legislature, and “I wouldn’t be surprised in the end if there were Republicans voting against him,” Surovell added.

And other caucus centrists are among those voicing their opposition to Wheeler’s appointment. In an interview with The Hill on Friday, moderate State Senator Joe Morrissey (D) said he “would not support him”.

“I really question this particular nomination. He is an individual who rescinded environmental guarantees at the head of the EPA under Trump. He’s an individual who was a lobbyist for the coal industry, ”Morrissey said.

He added that in most situations he supported giving “leeway” to new governors, but said this candidate was different.

“I don’t think he’s the right person for the job,” he said.

Likewise, moderate Democrat Chap Petersen’s office provided The Hill with a copy of the senator’s newsletter, in which he expressed his “concerns” about the candidate, though the letter does not explicitly commit to voting. against Wheeler.

“I have had the opportunity to meet and speak with the new governor over the past two weeks … I have serious concerns about his recent selection as secretary of natural resources,” the lawmaker’s letter reads. , who is also the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources.

The Virginia legislature has not rejected a governor’s appointment since 2006, when Republicans in the state House of Delegates rejected the then government. Tim kaineTimothy (Tim) Michael Kaine’s Virginia Democrats brace for a rare confirmation fight against Wheeler.(D) candidate for Commonwealth Secretary Daniel LeBlanc.

Representative Don McEachin (D-Va.), Himself a former Virginia state senator, on Friday called on all members to oppose Wheeler’s appointment, citing his environmental record.

“At the Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Wheeler has sought to minimize the impacts of pollution in the rule-making process, overturn the Clean Power Plan to limit carbon pollution from our power generation sector , weaken federal vehicle fuel standards, restrict the use of science in the rule-making process and protect public health, and hamper the restoration of Chesapeake Bay by weakening Clean Water Act protections and proposing cuts to EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program funding by 90 percent, ”McEachin wrote in the letter.

A spokesperson for Youngkin referred to The Hill to Youngkin’s statements in support of Wheeler’s record when he announced the appointment on Monday.

In a statement earlier this week, the governor-elect said Wheeler shares “my vision of finding new ways to innovate and use our natural resources to provide Virginia with a stable, reliable and growing power supply that will meet Virginia electricity demands without passing costs to the consumer.

Updated at 4:49 p.m.


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