Jeffords Stalls Bush EPA Appointments

Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) has put on hold four of President Bush’s appointments to top positions in the U.S. EPA, protesting what he says is the agency’s refusal to turn over documents he’s requested. Saying he has repeatedly been “stonewalled” by the agency — he points to 12 unmet document requests over the past three years — Jeffords bluntly stated, “I have bent over backwards to try to accommodate the EPA, but my patience is now worn out.” Jeffords’ relationship to the president and the Republican Party has been frosty since he became an independent in May 2001, but his accusations were supported by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who coauthored a letter with Jeffords to EPA chief Mike Leavitt on March 4 “to express our commonly held position that the agency is obligated to respond to requests from … the chair and ranking member.” Most of the documents Jeffords has requested relate to Bush’s changes to Clean Air Act rules, which the senator calls “questionable interpretations.”