EPA Nominee Asks Former Agency Chief for Support

Mike Leavitt, President Bush’s choice to become the next head of the U.S. EPA, knows that environmentally minded Democrats are going to make his confirmation hearings tough, so he’s getting his ducks in a row. Within a day of his nomination by Bush, Leavitt had called Carol Browner, the EPA administrator under President Clinton, to ask if he could use her as a reference during the hearings. Her reply: Sure, at your own risk. Browner said she’d speak out about both the strengths and weaknesses of the current Utah governor. In the first category, she says, he’s easy to work with, doesn’t “walk the industry line,” and is an overall nice guy. In the second category: He’s a big supporter of using cost-benefit analyses in making environmental decisions, even though critics say such analyses consistently overestimate the cost to industry and underestimate the benefit to people and the environment. Browner also criticized Leavitt’s strong belief in states’ rights.