Politico PRO: Virginia Senate rejects Wheeler for Youngkin Cabinet position

02/08/2022 03:22 PM EST

Democrats in the Virginia state Senate stuck together to reject Andrew Wheeler’s nomination to serve in Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Cabinet.

The former Trump administration EPA chief, a lightning rod among environmentalists, was rejected 21-19 on Tuesday from serving as Virginia’s secretary of natural and historic resources.

Wheeler’s nomination garnered a significant amount of outside interest given his national profile. Marie Owens Powell, the president of a union representing 7,500 EPA employees, urged Virginia lawmakers last month to reject Wheeler’s nomination. Powell said Wheeler “abandoned the protection of natural resources and decimated environmental safeguards” during his four years at EPA.

The Virginia League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club also opposed the nomination.

Still, more than 120 Wheeler supporters, including EPA employees and two previous Virginia secretaries of natural and historic resources, sent their own letter aimed at rebuffing “politically charged” opposition.

Youngkin thus far has pledged to take Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade program and said he would not have signed the Virginia Clean Economy Act, which calls for all coal-fired plants to close by the end of 2024 and for the state’s largest utility, Dominion Energy, to be 100 percent carbon-free by 2045.

In an exclusive interview with POLITICO, Wheeler had said the targets in the VCEA will be “very hard to meet” and that the country has not yet “looked at the negative consequences of renewables.”