Fairfield grad Andrew Wheeler confirmed by Senate to lead EPA

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: Andrew Wheeler answers senators’ questions during his confirmation hearing to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. A former coal lobbyist, Wheeler has been acting administrator of the EPA since July, when Scott Pruitt stepped down amid multiple ethics investigations. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Caption
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: Andrew Wheeler answers senators’ questions during his confirmation hearing to be the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. A former coal lobbyist, Wheeler has been acting administrator of the EPA since July, when Scott Pruitt stepped down amid multiple ethics investigations. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Senate narrowly approved Andrew Wheeler, who grew up in Butler County, to be the next administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

By a vote of 52-to 47 Thursday, the Senate confirmed Wheeler, who graduated from Fairfield High School in 1983 and from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, voted for Wheeler while Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, opposed the nomination.

Explore RELATED: Butler County native nominated by Trump to head EPA

President Donald Trump nominated Wheeler to replace Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator after Pruitt resigned last year. He provoked opposition from Democrats and environmental organizations because they fear he would water down environmental regulations opposed by companies.

In addition, as a private lobbyist, one of Wheeler’s clients was a coal company.

Brown said “Ohioans deserve an EPA administrator willing to stand up up for the interests of our state, not rubber stamp the agenda of corporate polluters and their lobbyists.”

During his confirmation hearings, Wheeler irritated environmentalists when he declined to say climate change was not “the greatest crisis, no sir. I consider it a huge issue that has to be addressed globally,” adding that he believes human beings contribute to global warming.