Senators Bring Up Climate Change During EPA Chief Confirmation Hearing

Environmental protesters interrupted a Senate confirmation hearing for acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
Posted at 4:18 PM, Jan 16, 2019

Climate change was a hot topic during Wednesday's Senate confirmation hearing for EPA administrator nominee Andrew Wheeler.

Lawmakers pointed out that Wheeler failed to mention climate change in his opening statement and questioned his position on the issue. 

"I believe that climate change is real. I believe that man has an impact on it," Wheeler said.

"The president has said that climate change is a hoax. Do you agree with him?" Sen. Bernie Sanders asked.

"I have not used the 'hoax' word myself," Wheeler responded. "I would not call it the greatest crisis. No, sir. I consider it a huge issue that has to be addressed globally." 

Amid interruption from environmental rights protesters, Wheeler also addressed concerns about how the agency is faring during the partial government shutdown

"I'm really looking forward to our furloughed employees coming back to work. We are still on the job on any emergency actions, as well as any court-ordered actions," Wheeler said.

Lawmakers also brought up a series of regulatory rollbacks under the Trump administration. 

During his time as acting head, Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, has proposed rolling back some pollution limits and protections for certain waterways as well as weakening car emissions standards.

Wheeler was tapped to temporarily lead the agency after the EPA's former head, Scott Pruitt, resigned amid multiple investigations into his spending and ethics.

Wheeler will likely be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN