WASHINGTON — Andrew Wheeler, a former congressional aide and lobbyist who has led the Environmental Protection Agency since his scandal-plagued predecessor resigned earlier this year, got President Trump’s nod Friday for the permanent job.

Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Wheeler’s promotion from acting to permanent EPA chief would keep him as a methodical and effective agent in Trump’s mission of rolling back environmental regulations that the administration regards as burdensome to business.

Environmental groups quickly voiced their opposition.

Trump announced his plans for Wheeler almost in passing Friday at a White House ceremony for Presidential Medal of Freedom honorees.

Singling out Cabinet members in the audience at the ceremony, Trump got to Wheeler and said, “acting administrator, who I will tell you is going to be made permanent.”

“He’s done a fantastic job and I want to congratulate him, EPA, Andrew Wheeler. Where’s Andrew?” Trump continued. “Congratulations, Andrew, great job, great job, thank you very much.”

The White House said Trump was signaling his intent to nominate Wheeler. The nomination would require Senate confirmation. Senators approved Wheeler as the agency’s deputy administrator in a 53-45 vote last April.

A veteran on Capitol Hill, Wheeler worked from 1995 to 2009 as a staffer for Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a fervent denier of man-made climate change, and then for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

“The perfect choice to lead the EPA,” Inhofe tweeted Friday. “Great pick.”

The grandson of a coal miner, Wheeler later worked as a lobbyist, including for coal giant Murray Energy Corp., which pushed hard at the outset of the Trump administration for coal-friendly policies from the EPA and other agencies.

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