Former EPA Chief Anne Gorsuch Burford Dies at 62

Anne Gorsuch Burford’s tenure at the U.S. EPA is a fascinating slice of history. Elected to the Colorado legislature at 34, she was part of a group dubbed the “House Crazies” for their drive to reduce government size and regulation. Her intelligence, combativeness, and striking looks made her a Republican favorite, and President Reagan selected her to lead the EPA in 1981. She immediately cut the agency’s budget by 22 percent and started rolling back regulations and enforcement, infuriating enviros and many legislators on both sides of the aisle. She waged a battle with Congress to withhold Superfund documents — by her accounting, on the advice of the Department of Justice and Reagan himself — and, cited for contempt, resigned after just 22 months on the job. Still, she maintained that she wanted to protect the environment, and in her memoir, she lamented, “Ronald Reagan has always been a personal and political hero of mine, and concluding that he doesn’t care about the environment hurts.” Burford died this week at the age of 62.