Senate transportation funding leader, Maine Republican Susan Collins, joined Democrats in opposition.
"Andrew Wheeler has been instrumental in advancing the most regressive environmental proposals of the Trump Administration -weakening public health protections against dirty cars, heat-trapping methane, toxic mercury, pollution from coal plants, and so much more", Moms Clean Air Force, a civil society group combating air pollution.
The Senate voted mostly along party lines to confirm Wheeler as the nation's top environmental regulator.
The Senate voted 53-45 in a procedural measure on Wednesday to end debate on Wheeler's nomination.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, chairman of the Senate environment committee, called Wheeler "uniquely qualified" and said the EPA under Wheeler is putting forward proposals that "both protect our environment and allow the country's economy to flourish".
But Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said Wheeler was failing to protect the environment and human health and was "nominated to unravel and undo the environmental protections that are now in place".
Environmental groups, meanwhile, slammed Wheeler, saying that while his behaviour is "less cartoonish" than Pruitt, he supports the same policies.
"There is no doubt that the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change pose a significant threat" to ME and the nation, Collins said, adding that pollution from coal-fired power plants threatens Maine's natural resources, "from our working forests, fishing and agricultural industries, to tourism and recreation".
ACE calls on Wheeler to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard as the law of the land.
"We should not move so quickly with Mr. Wheeler's nomination in light of his failure to ensure that EPA acts responsibly, especially in areas where there are such clear "win-wins" that most EPA administrators would have welcomed the opportunity to implement", Carper said during Wheeler's confirmation hearing earlier this month. But in October, the United Nations released a landmark report predicting catastrophic effects of warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees F) - a fate that's all but certain unless world governments halve emissions by 2030. Prior to joining Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting, he worked at the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for 14 years serving in various roles, including as the majority and minority staff director and chief counsel. He proposed loosening requirements that coal-fired power plants reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Targeting an Obama-era policy opposed by farmers, the EPA announced plans in December under Wheeler's leadership to kill a clean-water rule that offered federal protections for wetlands and other isolated water bodies.
While Democrats initially viewed Wheeler as a pragmatic technocrat with whom they could forge a handful of policy compromises, they expressed disappointment over key decisions he has made at the agency.
"Wheeler wants to turn the EPA into a wish-granting service for polluters, no matter the cost to public health or wildlife".
Environmental groups reacted to Thursday's confirmation much as they did when Wheeler took the reins as deputy administrator.