Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The White House on Monday announced several additional appointments of interest to enviros, with the biggest being that Interior Department Inspector General Earl E. Devaney has been tapped to serve as the chairman of the new Recovery Act Transparency and Accountability Board, along with VP Joe Biden.

Devaney played a crucial role in investigating the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But to Grist readers he will forever be remembered as the guy who blew the lid off the sex, drugs, and oil controversy at the Minerals Management Service last September. In his new role, Devaney will oversee how the $787 billion in stimulus cash is spent. Here’s hoping he’ll keep the stimulus package free of wild sex parties.

Obama also appointed Jon Cannon, a professor of environmental law and the director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Program at the University of Virginia, to serve as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Cannon served as general counsel at the EPA from 1995 to 1998, and was assistant administrator for administration and resources management from 1992 to 1995. His previous titles at EPA also include: deputy general counsel for Litigation and Regional Operations, deputy assistant administrator for Civil Enforcement, deputy assistant administrator of the Office of Solid Waste Emergency Response (OSWER), acting assistant administrator for OSWER, assistant administrator for administration and resource management and chief financial officer. In short, he’s got a lot of experience at EPA. He also served as senior counsel at the environmental law firm Beveridge & Diamond.

Over at Interior, Tom Strickland, Ken Salazar’s chief staff in the Senate, was named as the assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. Strickland made two unsuccessful bids for the U.S. Senate in Colorado, losing to incumbent Republican Wayne Allard in 1996 and 2002. He was a U.S. Attorney in Colorado from 1999-2000, and managing partner at the Denver office of Hogan & Hartson. As a U.S. attorney, Strickland was involved in the water rights settlement reached in San Luis Valley in 2000, which protected watersheds in the Rio Grande and Gunnison National Forests.

Before becoming Salazar’s chief of staff, Strickland was the chief legal officer for UnitedHealth Group. His official bio from the Obama team notes that, “During Strickland’s campaigns for U.S. Senate, he voiced public support for providing new tools and resources to help communities reduce traffic congestion, preserve open space, and grow in ways that ensure a high quality of life. He also pledged to be a strong advocate of protecting air and water quality through strengthening and enforcing the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

Grist’s Tom Philpott has more on the appointment of Kathleen Merrigan as deputy secretary at the Department of Agriculture.