WASHINGTON — A uncommon affirmation battle is brewing across the nomination of Andrew Wheeler, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency below President Donald J. Trump, to take an identical function in an incoming Republican state administration in Virginia.

Democratic leaders mentioned they’d strive to block Mr. Wheeler from taking cost of conservation packages, environmental cleanups and local weather change initiatives like those he opposed as E.P.A. administrator.

Resistance to Mr. Wheeler started constructing simply moments after his nomination to be pure sources secretary was introduced on Wednesday by Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who will be sworn in on Jan. 15.

Republicans gained management of the House of Delegates in November, however Democrats retain a 21-to-19 majority within the State Senate. They would give you the chance to block affirmation of Mr. Wheeler if each Senate Democrat have been to vote in opposition to him.

It can be certainly one of only a handful of occasions in latest historical past {that a} governor’s decide had been upended in a state the place well mannered politics have lengthy been the norm.

Democratic lawmakers on Thursday mentioned Mr. Wheeler’s former employment as a coal lobbyist and the function he performed on the E.P.A. reversing federal protections in opposition to air and water air pollution have been causes to combat his appointment.

“Our governors tend not to propose people for these positions that are all that polarizing,” mentioned Scott A. Surovell, a Democratic state senator from Northern Virginia. “I can’t think of a nominee in the last 20 years that has had the level of a controversial history as this guy does.”

Mr. Surovell, who’s vice chairman of the Senate Democratic caucus, mentioned he was not sure if there have been sufficient votes to defeat Mr. Wheeler’s nomination. But he mentioned he had been fielding textual content messages all day from colleagues who expressed astonishment at Mr. Youngkin’s selection.

“I think there’s a real chance that he could be rejected if Governor-elect Youngkin continues to insist on his nomination,” Mr. Surovell mentioned.

Mr. Wheeler, who lives in Virginia, didn’t reply to an e-mail in search of remark. A spokesman for Mr. Youngkin additionally declined to remark.

In a press release saying his nomination of Mr. Wheeler in addition to Michael Rolband to be state director of environmental high quality, Mr. Youngkin mentioned “Virginia needs a diverse energy portfolio in place to fuel our economic growth, continued preservation of our natural resources, and a comprehensive plan to tackle rising sea levels. Andrew and Michael share my vision in finding new ways to innovate and use our natural resources to provide Virginia with a stable, dependable, and growing power supply that will meet Virginia’s power demands without passing the costs on to the consumer.”

In September Mr. Wheeler testified earlier than the board of supervisors in Fairfax County, Va., in opposition to a proposed 5-cent tax on disposable plastic baggage, calling the plan “misguided.”

“The appointment of someone like Wheeler is dangerous and reckless,” mentioned Connor Kish, the legislative and political director of the Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club, an environmental group. Mr. Kish mentioned the chapter was launching a direct lobbying effort to squelch Mr. Wheeler’s affirmation, the primary time in his reminiscence the group has executed so for a state-level nominee.

Yet regardless of opposition to his insurance policies, Mr. Wheeler additionally briefly was a salve at a time of nice angst on the E.P.A. when he took its helm in 2018 after his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, resigned amid federal ethics inquiries. Having began his profession on the E.P.A. within the 1990s earlier than working within the Senate for greater than a decade, Mr. Wheeler was thought of a technocrat who didn’t search the limelight and targeted on advancing his bosses’ agendas.

“He’s going to be a very, very steady hand,” mentioned Michael Catanzaro, an power lobbyist and accomplice with the consulting agency CGCN Group who served within the Trump administration.

“Is he going to implement policies the governor wants? Yeah,” Mr. Catanzaro mentioned. “The environmental community is not going to like that, but they should at least have some respect for Andy and his decades of experience in working on energy and environmental issues.”

Mr. Youngkin already has mentioned he needs to take away Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a carbon market involving 10 different Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States. Virginia just lately accomplished its first full cycle of quarterly carbon auctions, which yielded about $228 million in income that Virginia designated for flood safety and clear power packages in low-income areas.

Legal specialists mentioned it was unclear whether or not Mr. Youngkin may unilaterally withdraw Virginia from the initiative as a result of its participation was approved by state legislation.

The legislature additionally handed the 2020 Clean Economy Act, which dedicated Virginia to transitioning the electrical grid to 100 % carbon-free energy by 2050. Democratic lawmakers mentioned they feared Mr. Wheeler would strive to decelerate or weaken implementation.

“I am very concerned that he will not only stall but actively undermine the bill,” mentioned State Senator Jennifer McClellan, Democrat of Charles City County and an architect of the Clean Economy Act. She mentioned the legislation had led to Virginia being ranked fifth nationally within the progress of solar energy.

Ms. McClellan declined to say if she would vote in opposition to Mr. Wheeler, however mentioned she had considerations “I’m not sure he can overcome.”

The final time the Virginia General Assembly rejected a nomination was in 2006, when Republicans opposed Governor Tim Kaine’s nomination of Daniel LeBlanc to be secretary of the commonwealth, mentioned Cale Jaffe, director of the Environmental Law and Community Engagement Clinic on the University of Virginia School of Law.

“It’s rare historically that the General Assembly objects to a governor’s cabinet picks, but it’s not unprecedented,” he mentioned.



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