Obama will block EPA nominees until agency issues new lead rules

President Bush’s latest U.S. EPA nominee has run into an obstacle no one anticipated: a Democrat with cojones. On Friday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) announced he was placing a hold on the nomination of Susan Bodine to head the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response — and furthermore, that he planned to block all future nominees to the EPA. What’s his beef? Long-delayed rules for lead-paint exposure from home remodeling, which the agency has been under orders to produce since 1996. The EPA’s own figures show that about 1.4 million children under age 7 are at risk of exposure to health-impairing levels of lead from home repairs and renovations; Illinois has the nation’s highest rate of childhood lead poisoning. Faced with Obama’s threat, EPA blinked and now says it’ll get those rules out by year’s end — but the senator wants the promise in writing before he’ll relent. Swoon.