Bush’s Choice for EPA Chief Lost Opportunity?

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<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Washington, D.C., August 12, 2003—When former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Todd Whitman resigned earlier this year, the Competitive Enterprise Institute challenged the Bush administration to choose a leader who could bring the agency and environmental policy into the 21st century.  CEI environmental scholars are questioning whether that will happen with the nomination of Utah Governor Michael Leavitt.


“Will we see much visionary reform with Leavitt at the helm?  I don’t know,” says CEI President and former EPA policy analyst Fred L. Smith, Jr.  “But his ideas on environmental federalism and creative property rights approaches to water issues do offer a glimmer of hope.” 


Despite significant changes in the environmental issues facing the U.S. today, the centralized bureaucracy of the EPA hasn’t kept up with the times since the agency’s founding in 1970.  CEI had hoped someone would be chosen who could tackle the erroneous assumption that more federal regulations are the answer to achieving better environmental quality.  This requires a willingness to challenge the environmental establishment and to be confrontational at times. 


“Governor Leavitt has talked a big game about decentralization—giving more power to the states to make environmental policy decisions—but he hasn’t aggressively pursued this,” says Dr. Robert H. Nelson, an adjunct senior environmental scholar with CEI.  “The Bush administration is probably looking for someone with a good image but who won’t make too many waves, which is what it is likely to get with Leavitt.”


                          Environmental Policy Experts Available for Interviews

Fred L. Smith, Jr.


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Recently seen & heard:  Crossfire (CNN), The Washington Post, and Now with Bill Moyers (PBS)

Dr. Robert H. Nelson

Senior Environmental Scholar

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Recently seen & heard:  The View with Blanquita Cullum (Radio America), author of A Burning Issue: A Case for Abolishing the U.S. Forest Service

CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.  For more information about CEI, please visit our website at www.cei.org.