The Dirk Side of the Moon
Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R), thought to be President Bush’s top pick to head the U.S. EPA after Christie Whitman leaves the agency at the end of this week, has overseen a decline in environmental quality in his home state. Since he assumed the Idaho governorship four and a half years ago, the state’s air has gotten dirtier and toxic emissions have increased, even as national trends have gone in the other direction. Kempthorne cut the state’s environmental budget three times and reduced environmental enforcement efforts, leading to fewer inspections at polluting facilities. In November 2001, Kempthorne publicly clashed with the EPA when the agency wanted to expand cleanup efforts at the Coeur d’Alene Basin Superfund. “I have become so frustrated with EPA that I’m on the verge of inviting EPA to leave Idaho,” Kempthorne said at the time. Kempthorne’s press secretary, Mark Snider, defended the governor’s environmental record, noting that he elevated the state environmental agency to cabinet status, boosted air and water monitoring, and tackled problems such as grass burning and dairy odors.