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Watch live: EPA nominee Andrew Wheeler begins Senate confirmation

By Nicholas Sakelaris
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Acting EPA Secretary Andrew Wheeler testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/9ac102600a9cecdb87e9fd56ca1fe05c/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Acting EPA Secretary Andrew Wheeler testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 16 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's chief environmental officer began his Senate confirmation at a hearing Wednesday.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee at 10 a.m. EST.

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Wheeler was nominated for the permanent post by Trump in November, after he served as the agency's administrator for five months. He replaced Scott Pruitt, who resigned in July after accusations of lavish spending.

Trump has said Wheeler's "done a fantastic job."

Two issues expected to feature prominently at his hearing are the administration's views on climate change and Wheeler's ties to the coal industry.

Wheeler spent nine years as a lobbyist at Faegre Baker Daniels, where he was the co-leader for the firm's energy and natural resources industry team. Senate Democrats will likely ask if he can lead the EPA when he spent so many years lobbying against environmental regulations in behalf of the coal industry.

Environmentalists have raised concern Wheeler might undo Obama administration policies that aimed to reduce effects of climate change.

Wheeler's is the second confirmation process going Wednesday. Attorney General-designate William Barr is being evaluated by the Senate judiciary committee.

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