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WV Senator Helps Advance Wheeler's EPA Nomination

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
February 6, 2019

WHEELING, W.Va. - With the help of a U.S. senator from West Virginia, Andrew Wheeler's nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency is moving to the full Senate for a vote.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., is among those who had questioned Wheeler's stance on clean-water standards for toxic chemicals known as PFAS. Penny Dacks of Morgantown, a volunteer for the nonprofit Moms Clean Air Force, was at Wheeler's Senate nomination hearing and said she's disappointed that Capito got no hard answers from Wheeler on PFAS or the EPA's efforts to weaken mercury-pollution standards.

"I wish Sen. Capito was showing more leadership in the questions that she asked Wheeler publicly," said Dacks. "She seems to be ignoring West Virginia's health, and her own supposed concerns about these drinking-water issues, just so that she can toe the party line."

Capito is among those on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who advanced Wheeler's nomination in a party-line vote. Capito said Wheeler had assured her privately that he would address her concerns about the PFAS standards, although critics have noted he has made no public concessions. A full Senate vote has not yet been scheduled.

As a mother and a neuroscientist, Dacks said she wants candid answers about how Wheeler's actions will affect the health of communities such as her own in West Virginia.

"We have an extraction industry, and I think many people in our state are proud that we can help power the country, and I think that they should be proud," she said. "But our families and our children should not be bearing the cost of so many different problems that come from toxins in our air, toxins in our water."

The EPA recently moved to roll back mercury emissions that can harm the brain and other organs, and the agency is reviewing its action plan to address PFAS, which have been found at unsafe levels in the tap water of at least 16 million Americans.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - WV