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For Immediate Release: Nov 17, 2008
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

HOW TO RESUSCITATE THE U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

EPA Employees Want Committed Leaders Able to Resist Political Pressure


Washington, DC — Rebuilding a battered Environmental Protection Agency will require more than merely importing a new set of politically-connected technocrats, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) which today proposed a “Green Dream Team” for the agency. Besides the top slot, PEER urges the Obama administration should look at whistleblowers and proven reformers as catalysts to transform this large, complex and increasingly demanding organization.

PEER contends that EPA needs new leadership that will both inspire its demoralized work force and restore the agency’s credibility with the public. The challenge for the Obama transition team will be having the courage to choose appointees with the courage to say “no” to the Obama White House. Among the people that PEER submits for consideration are –

  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. as EPA Administrator. If ever EPA needed a forceful advocate at the helm, it is now. Kennedy has been a leader in fights against destructive mountain-top removal mining, toxic contamination of neighborhoods and lax enforcement of pollution laws;
  • Mary Gade for the Assistant Administrator (AA) for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. Earlier this year, Gade was forced out of a top EPA position by the Bush White House for pursuing prosecution of toxic violations against Dow Chemical;
  • Bruce Buckheit as AA for Air and Radiation. Buckheit, the agency’s former Director of its air enforcement division resigned in 2004 in protest of Bush administration obstruction of pollution prosecution and clean-up efforts directed against the nation’s dirtiest power-plants;
  • Doug Thompson as AA for Water Programs. Thompson, a biologist, previously headed agency wetlands protection and water enforcement efforts in New England, until he resigned in 2005;
  • Bill Hirzy as AA for Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. Hirzy, a long-time agency chemist, has been a leading voice for greater scientific integrity in EPA decision-making;
  • Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo as AA for International Affairs. She is one of EPA’s most noted advocates for social justice and has served as a leader of EPA's International Activities Office;
  • Richard Emory for Inspector General. Emory is a former whistleblower and enforcement expert. He has served in several managerial slots and is a former deputy Maryland Attorney General;
  • Scott West to head the Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics and Training. West just retired as Supervisory Criminal Investigator and Special Agent-in-Charge Seattle Area Office after revealing how prosecution of a major Alaska oil spill was truncated; and
  • Hugh Kaufman for National Superfund Ombudsman where he served as Chief Investigator until the office was abolished in 2002 on the orders of then-EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman following the World Trade Center attack.

“The current and former EPA employees who suggested these nominees are hungry for leaders they can believe in,” added Ruch, pointing by contrast to the mixed to mediocre records of some of the state agency heads being considered, particularly from the eastern states of Massachusetts and New Jersey. “EPA needs people who have demonstrated by their careers that they can walk the walk.”

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Read the short biographies of the PEER “nominees”

Look at deep morale and leadership issues inside EPA

View the Obama letter on priorities for EPA

See Scott West’s disclosures about the BP Alaska prosecution

Revisit Hugh Kaufman’s battle to restore the Superfund Ombudsman