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EPA: Bush Nominee Headed a Flawed Ohio Agency

Troubles are mounting for Donald Schregardus, the Bush\r\nadministration's pick to be EPA's top enforcement officer.

Troubles are mounting for Donald Schregardus, the Bush administration''s pick to be EPA''s top enforcement officer.

Two Senators have placed "holds" on the nomination, potentially tying it up for months because until the holds are lifted the full Senate cannot vote on the matter. Although the Bush administration appears ready for a fight, success is far from certain.

Last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., essentially forced an unwilling EPA to release a report that was highly critical of several Ohio environmental programs, some of them supervised by Schregardus, the former administrator of Ohio''s Environmental Protection Agency from 1991 through 1999. Boxer is one of the Senators who has placed a hold on the nomination.

The report, which covers the years 1995-2000, appeared to substantiate some of the criticisms of the nominee, voiced by environmentalists and Senate Democrats.

For example, according to the EPA report, under Schregardus, Ohio''s EPA was so under-staffed that it was unable to enforce federal Clean Air Act effectively. In recent years there were declines in air inspections, investigations of complaints and amounts of penalties collected.

The report also found several other problems with Ohio''s EPA, and it clearly embarrassed the Bush administration and EPA, which have rallied to try to save the Schregardus nomination.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman wrote in a letter that Schregardus had an "impressive record" of achievement in Ohio.

"Overall, Ohio continues to make progress in protecting the environment," said EPA administrator Christie Whitman in a press release on the report that was designed to do a little damage control. "Nonetheless, there is work to be done, together."

by James Nash

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