Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the coal industry, is acting EPA administrator. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Ex-coal lobbyist endorsed for EPA

Acting Environmental Protection Agency chief and former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler won a Senate committee's approval of his appointment to the permanent post on Tuesday, along with praise from the panel's Republicans for his work rolling back a series of Obama-era environmental measures.

The 11-10 vote by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sends President Donald Trump's nomination of Wheeler to the full Senate. Republicans on the panel voted unanimously for Wheeler, a low-key Washington veteran who has led the EPA since Scott Pruitt resigned amid ethics allegations in July.

But Democrats on the panel blasted Wheeler's rollbacks in unanimously voting against his nomination. Delaware Sen. Tom Carper and other Democrats pointed especially to the EPA's moves under Wheeler easing a series of environmental measures governing the coal industry, including rollba

Wheeler's tenure has been free of the kind of allegations of personal enrichment and lavish spending that drove Pruitt out. Republicans praised Wheeler for shepherding along a series of proposed environmental rollbacks, such as proposing to narrow federal protections of wetlands and waterways, since then.


Renault chairman joins Nissan board

Nissan's board has chosen as a director Jean-Dominique Senard, who was recently appointed chairman at the Japanese automaker's alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Nissan Motor Co. said in a statement that its board decided Tuesday to hold an extraordinary shareholders' meeting on April 8, to remove its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn. Earlier, he also was dismissed as chairman of smaller alliance partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. He resigned recently as chairman and chief executive of Renault.

Nissan did not say if Senard was being considered to replace Ghosn as chairman.

Ghosn was arrested Nov. 19 and was charged with falsifying financial reports and breach of trust. Shareholders must approve his removal from and Senard's addition to the board.

Nissan also will seek shareholders' approval for the ouster of Greg Kelly, who was arrested with Ghosn for alleged financial misconduct in collaborating to underreport Ghosn's compensation.

Ghosn has repeatedly said he is innocent. Ghosn led Nissan for two decades, turning it around from near-bankruptcy.


Disney networks offset movie drop

'The Walt Disney Co.'s first-quarter net income beat expectations as higher revenue from its media networks and theme parks helped offset a weaker movie slate during the quarter.

Disney and other media companies are facing a shifting landscape as more TV watchers switch to streaming rather than traditional cable bundles. Disney is building up its streaming offerings by buying 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets for $71.3 billion and launching its own streaming services such as ESPN Plus and Disney Plus.

CEO Bob Iger said Disney Plus and other direct-to-consumer businesses are Disney's "No. 1 priority."

The entertainment company's net income fell 37 percent to $2.79 billion, or $1.86 per share. The drop was due mainly to a hefty benefit from tax changes in the prior-year quarter. Excluding one-time items, net income totaled $1.84 per share. Analysts expected net income of $1.54 per share, according to FactSet.


Exxon to expand Texas LNG plant

Exxon Mobil is making a big bet on the future of exporting natural gas.

Exxon and Qatar Petroleum announced Tuesday that they will go ahead with a $10 billion project to export liquefied natural gas from a plant on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The companies said construction at the Golden Pass plant in Sabine Pass, Texas, would start before April, and the export operation is expected to begin running in 2024.

Exxon said the project will create 9,000 jobs during the five years of construction and more than 200 permanent jobs.