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Coal-industry lobbyist gets high-ranking job at U.S. environment agency

In this March 16, 2011 file photo, exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal at NRG Energy's W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station in Thompsons, Texas. President Donald Trump's recommendation of a former coal-industry lobbyist to serve as the second-highest ranking official at the EPA has been approved.
In this March 16, 2011 file photo, exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal at NRG Energy's W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station in Thompsons, Texas. President Donald Trump's recommendation of a former coal-industry lobbyist to serve as the second-highest ranking official at the EPA has been approved. AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File

Republican senators used their majority to advance President Donald Trump’s nomination of a former coal-industry lobbyist to serve as the second-highest ranking official at the Environmental Protection Agency.

READ MORE: Removal of climate change info from U.S. environment agency site overseen by boss: emails

The Environment and Public Works Committee voted along party lines 11-10 on Wednesday to send the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to the full Senate for a vote.

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Before his nomination as EPA’s deputy administrator, Wheeler was a lobbyist whose clients included Murray Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal mining companies.

READ MORE: Trump’s EPA aims to replace Obama-era carbon, clean water regulations in 2018

Wheeler accompanied company CEO Bob Murray last year during meetings to lobby the Trump administration to roll back environmental regulations affecting coal mines. Asked about the meetings during a November hearing before the Senate committee, Wheeler said he couldn’t remember details. The administration later carried out some of the recommended actions.

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