WV, Ohio senators divided on Wheeler confirmation

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WASHINGTON, D.C.-(WTAP) Andrew Wheeler is now officially EPA Administrator.

U.S. EPA / MGN

The U.S. Senate, on a split 53-47 vote, confirmed President Trump's choice for the post.

Wheeler, a former coal industry lobbyist, became Acting Administrator last summer when Scott Pruitt resigned.

West Virginia's-and Ohio's-Senators were divided on the nomination.

Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, who supported Wheeler's appointment last summer, released a statement Wednesday saying he would vote against his permanent confirmation.

But Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who voted in favor, praised Wheeler's knowledge and experience.

"I think his goals of clean air and clean water mesh well with the things I think are important to our environment, Capito said in a satellite interview Thursday afternoon. "But he works well with Congress, really on both sides of the aisle. I'm sorry it was a party-line vote, because I think he'll be very responsive to both sides."

Capito also said Wheeler was responsive to her concerns about drinking water safety. Wheeler in mid-February announced an action plan regarding PFOS chemicals, including C8 and its replacement, Gen X.

Environmental groups say the plan doesn't go far enough to ensure public safety.

Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown voted against confirming Wheeler, while Republican Rob Portman voted yes.