A group of protesters interrupted acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Wednesday during his opening statement at the Senate hearing for his permanent confirmation to the position.
Wheeler had begun reading his prepared remarks to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when a number of protesters began shouting and speaking out.
“Senator, I really must object to this hearing happening during the shutdown,” one protester could be heard saying as Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) banged his gavel in an attempt to restore order to the room.
The protester voiced displeasure with Wheeler’s desire to “deregulate.” “This is an outrage!” he yelled.
Another protester holding a sign could be seen being corralled out of the hearing room by Capitol Police officers as a chant of “Shutdown Wheeler, not the EPA” broke out among the group.
Watch the video below, via C-SPAN:
Protesters interrupt EPA Administrator nominee Andrew Wheeler while he gives his opening statement at his Senate confirmation hearing.
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 16, 2019
Barrasso invited Wheeler to continue reading his prepared remarks after Capitol Police removed the protesters from the hearing room, but muted chants could still be heard from outside the room.
Wheeler, previously the deputy at EPA, took the helm as acting administrator in July after the resignation of former Administrator Scott Pruitt. Pruitt had been criticized by environmental groups, but ultimately saw himself pushed out amidst a growing number of scandals that included everything from his unprecedented round the clock security detail to his alleged use of the lights and sirens of his motorcade to speedily arrive for reservations at a popular French bistro in Washington, D.C.
But Wheeler’s history as a coal lobbyist has drawn harsh criticism from environmental groups after he took control of the agency tasked with protecting the environment.