Rumors are heating up about who will fill the shoes of U.S. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, who announced her resignation last month and will step down June 27. Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) and Tom Skinner, the EPA’s Midwest regional administrator, seem to have risen above two earlier possibilities — Deputy EPA Administrator Linda Fisher and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David Struhs — as the most likely candidates. Kempthorne is seen as an active anti-environmentalist and, like the Bush administration, he strongly opposes strict government regulation of industry; Skinner is regarded as a team player who does not have his own agenda. A third possibility, Josephine Cooper, is president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures and a former executive with the American Forest and Paper Association. The nomination and approval process is certain to become a forum for heavy criticism of President Bush’s environmental record from the Democratic presidential candidates and green organizations.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.