Maine Sen. Susan Collins was the sole Republican to oppose Wheeler.
Business interests like oil and coal, eager to see reduced regulation, were quick to hail Wheeler's confirmation while Democrats and conservation groups are anxious that environmental rollbacks under the Trump administration are going too far. The next day, David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist and No. 2 at the Department of the Interior, became acting secretary when Ryan Zinke resigned amid mounting ethics investigations.
Thursday's confirmation comes a day after the Senate voted 52-46 to end debate on the nomination.
"There is no doubt that the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change pose a significant threat" to ME and the nation, Collins said, adding that pollution from coal-fired power plants threatens Maine's natural resources, "from our working forests, fishing and agricultural industries, to tourism and recreation".
"With Andrew Wheeler-dealer at the helm, it's truly time to rename EPA the 'Environmental Pollution Agency, '" declared Martin Hayden, vice president of policy and legislation Earthjustice.
And Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, said Wheeler's "extensive experience" had prepared him to serve as the nation's top environmental official.
Wheeler's record-breaking reign as acting administrator was marked by an unprecedented assault on greenhouse gas regulations amid historic wildfires and hurricanes that scientists say offer a preview of the rapidly warming world to come.
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ACE calls on Wheeler to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard as the law of the land.
Many U.S. utilities had already planned adjustments to their coal-burning generators to comply with the tighter mercury standards, and the utilities are anxious that proposals for looser rules could lead to regulatory uncertainty.
In December, Wheeler delivered another two victories to the coal industry that, until mid-2017, had paid him to lobby the government.
✅Weakening requirements that protect communities from accidents at chemical plants. They have longed for one of their own calling the shots at the agency, and now they finally have their man in Andrew Wheeler.
But Wheeler has brought a level of stability to the agency that didn't exist under Pruitt, keeping a relatively low profile while continuing to make progress towards meeting the Trump administration's policy goals for the agency. "From his actions as acting administrator for the past eight months, we have clear evidence of his agenda: undermine rules to limit toxic mercury, allow more smog and water pollution, and roll back protections against the threat of climate change".
"Wheeler wants to turn the EPA into a wish-granting service for polluters, no matter the cost to public health or wildlife", Emily Knobbe, EPA policy specialist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
America's Power, a trade group that represents coal producers, applauded Wheeler's confirmation.