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[GreenYes] Enviro. Appointees
May 12, 2001 

Bush Picks Industry Insiders to Fill Environmental Posts

Expanded Coverage
Politics: White House

WASHINGTON, May 9  President Bush has filled several senior
environment-related jobs in his administration with pro-business
advocates who have worked on behalf of various industries in battles with
the federal government, largely during the Clinton years.

Mr. Bush has announced his intent to nominate a mining industry lobbyist
as the No. 2 person at the Interior Department. He has chosen a lobbyist
for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to be the department's
chief lawyer.

His choice for No. 2 at the Environmental Protection Agency was a
lobbyist for Monsanto, the chemical company now devoted to agribusiness.
He wants as chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality a lawyer who
represented General Electric in its fight with the E.P.A. over toxic
waste sites.

Many of these candidates share a pro-property rights philosophy as well
as a libertarian leaning, and conservatives find this just the right
approach. Supporters also say that the individuals selected are deeply
familiar with the issues that will come before them, and that they will
know how to balance environmental protection and economic interests.

"We're real happy with the team that Bush is putting in," said Mike
Hardiman, legislative director of the American Conservative Union.

"After eight years of the extremist, anti-people, anti-access policies of
the Clinton administration and its overzealous application of the
Endangered Species Act and the shutdown of recreational access to public
lands as well as the commercial access, we're now going to have more of a
balance," he said.

The list of intended nominees  most have not been officially nominated 
is notable for the absence of picks from the environmental movement. Mr.
Bush was considering John Turner, president of the Conservation Fund, for
the No. 2 job at Interior, but Mr. Turner was dropped after strong
opposition from Mr. Hardiman's group and others.

In Mr. Turner's place, Mr. Bush has nominated J. Steven Griles, a mining
industry lobbyist who once worked in the Interior Department under James
Watt, President Reagan's first Interior secretary.

"They are lawyers and lobbyists who built their careers by helping
industry get out of environmental regulations," said Maria Weidner,
policy advocate for the Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund. "Now, assuming
they're confirmed, they will be doing the same thing, only the taxpayers
will be paying for it." 

Business advocates assert that the industry credentials of the nominees
does not necessarily foreshadow their approach in their new jobs.

William L. Kovacs, vice president for environment, technology and
regulatory affairs at the United States Chamber of Commerce, said that
critics had portrayed the Bush team as anti-environment even as the
president let stricter standards concerning diesel emissions and
reporting on lead emissions go into effect. 

"I don't think that just because these people worked for business, you
can call them pro-business," Mr. Kovacs said. "They're not as clear- cut
as the enviros would like to paint them."

Guided by the tone set at the top  from Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick
Cheney to Gale A. Norton, the Interior secretary, and Christie Whitman,
the E.P.A. administrator  these nominees will help determine what
policies to advocate, what regulations to enforce and what litigation to

They replace Clinton loyalists who came largely from strong environmental
backgrounds. When President Bill Clinton took office, for example, his
Interior secretary, Bruce Babbitt, was a former governor of Arizona but
also head of the League of Conservation Voters. Mr. Babbitt put George
Frampton, a former head of the Wilderness Society, in charge of fish,
wildlife and parks; Mr. Frampton ended up in charge of the White House
environmental council.

Now, some former Clinton officials  many of whom work for environmental
lobbying groups  complain that the Bush team generally views the
environment as resources to be mined, logged and drilled. 

"Their collective orientation is clearly pro-development and
pro-exploitation of public resources for the personal profit of various
industries," said Dave Alberswerth, who worked at the Interior Department
under Mr. Babbitt and is now at the Wilderness Society. 

Some holdovers  like Dale Bosworth, the new Forest Service chief, who
was a regional forester in Montana  have not drawn environmentalists'
fire. And Mr. Bush has yet to name picks for a handful of key posts.

But many of those he has named at Interior, E.P.A. and other agencies
with environmental oversight have corporate backgrounds and appear
skeptical of the regulatory process. Most candidates declined to discuss
their prospective roles before their Senate confirmation hearings.

One of Mr. Bush's most influential choices would be John D. Graham as
administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the
Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, Mr. Graham, a Harvard
professor who has argued that the costs of most environmental regulations
exceed their benefits, would be in charge of reviewing all regulations
proposed by federal agencies.

As he said in a 1996 speech at the Heritage Foundation, "environmental
regulation should be depicted as an incredible intervention in the
operation of society."

Mr. Bush has also said he would nominate Linda J. Fisher to be deputy
administrator of the E.P.A. Most recently she headed the government
affairs office at Monsanto. Ms. Fisher served at the E.P.A. in the Reagan
and first Bush administrations as director of the office of pesticides
and toxic substances; assistant administrator for policy, planning and
evaluation; and as chief of staff.

Phil Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, called her a
"moderate, corporate-style Republican, not a hidebound conservative" and
said Ms. Fisher was seen as "pretty reasonable by environmentalists"
during her tenure as head of the agency's pesticide office. 

"But afterward," he said, "she headed Monsanto's lobbying operation while
the company was trying to head off any government oversight of
genetically engineered crops." 

Mr. Griles, the mining lobbyist picked as deputy Interior secretary,
worked in the Reagan Interior department at a series of jobs, ending up
as assistant secretary of lands and minerals management.

He then became an executive at the United Company, a coal, oil and gas
development company. Until recently he was a lobbyist for National
Environmental Strategies, with clients including the National Mining
Association, Occidental Petroleum, Edison Electric and the Coalbed
Methane Ad Hoc Committee.

John Grasser, a spokesman for the National Mining Association, said that
Mr. Griles's industry experience was an important asset for his new post.
"You've got to get the people who understand the issues," he said.

And he disputed the complaint of environmentalists that the candidates
were captives of industry. "When they get into these jobs, they have to
walk somewhat of a middle line," Mr. Grasser said.

William Geary Myers 3d is Mr. Bush's choice to be solicitor for the
Interior Department. As lobbyist for the National Cattlemen's Beef
Association and the Public Lands Council, Mr. Myers advocated pro-rancher
positions. While most issues involved land access and water allocation,
he also opposed reintroducing wolves in Yellowstone National Park and
Idaho and supported the state of Montana in the killing of bison that
wandered out of Yellowstone.

Mr. Myers said this week that as the potential lawyer for the department,
"my primary clients will be the president and the secretary." He said he
would not characterize himself as pro-industry or anti-industry.

For chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Mr.
Bush has picked James Connaughton, a partner at Sidley & Austin, a law
firm that advises corporate clients and trade groups on environmental
law. He has represented General Electric and Atlantic Richfield in fights
against the E.P.A. about cleanup of Superfund sites.

Mr. Bush's choice for assistant attorney general at the Justice
Department for the environment and natural resources is Thomas
Sansonetti, a lawyer from Wyoming who specializes in minerals and energy
and is a member of the libertarian Federalist Society. As the solicitor
at Interior in the first Bush administration, Mr. Sansonetti helped
negotiate the Exxon Valdez oil-spill settlement.

Other Interior nominees include Bennet William Raley, a lawyer who has
represented farm interests, as assistant secretary for water and science,
and Lynn Scarlett, president of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian
group, as assistant secretary for policy, management and budget.

"I don't like to tell people how to live their lives," Ms. Scarlett said.
"If that means I'm gun-shy of mandates, where they'll undermine
environmental performance, stifle innovation and heighten conflict, then
I'll say so. But I think too often we judge environmentalism as being the
equivalent of adherence to a particular statute rather than achieving
specific results, and they're not the same thing."

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