Bush names Utah governor to head EPA

President Bush announced Monday that he would nominate Republican Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Leavitt would replace Christine Todd Whitman, who left the agency in May. Marianne L. Horinko is currently serving as acting administrator of the agency.

At an appearance in Aurora, Colo., President Bush said, "I selected Mike Leavitt because he is a trusted friend, a capable executive and a man who understands the obligations of environmental stewardship. With the Senate's approval, Mike Leavitt will lead an agency with 18,000 dedicated employees in offices all across our country."

Leavitt has pushed efforts to increase cooperation among federal, state and local officials in managing the vast areas of public land in Utah.

According to a report in The Salt Lake Tribune, Leavitt told attendees at the Rural Utah Business Conference last week that people with "extreme views" on issues such as control of roads on federal lands and the proposed designation of lands as wilderness areas should move toward the center and seek to cooperate with their opponents to solve disputes.

Last month, the House gave limited approval to a deal Leavitt negotiated with Interior Secretary Gale Norton to allow Utah counties to win control of pieces of public land in the state to maintain as roadways. Senate Democrats have questioned the deal, calling for an investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general.

Leavitt, a three-term governor of Utah, had been weighing whether to seek another term. He said in late July that he would make a decision by Labor Day about whether to run again.

After Whitman announced her resignation, Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne emerged as a leading candidate to head EPA. But environmentalists lodged objections to his potential nomination. And in June, conservative activists also began raising questions about Kempthorne, charging that he too often abandoned conservative, free-market principles in support of large business interests.

Leavitt, like Kempthorne, has at times had a contentious relationship with environmentalists. But he was seen as a more moderate choice than Kempthorne.

Whitman engendered severe criticism from environmental groups and alienated some of her own employees at EPA.

Jeff Ruch, the executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a Washington based nonprofit organization, said in May that Whitman had "presided over the greatest rollback in environmental enforcement in history, has pushed pollution control policies that put corporations rather than public health considerations in the driver's seat. [She] allowed the White House to make decision after decision that trumped her own judgment as well as that of the experts within the EPA."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.