President Bush announces nominee to head EPA

Today President Bush announced his new pick to lead the U.S. EPA: Steve Johnson, who’s been the agency’s temporary head since Mike Leavitt left six weeks ago to head the Department of Health and Human Services. If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson, a 24-year EPA veteran, will be the first professional scientist to hold the position. The choice of Johnson, a low-key, wonky agency vet whose work has focused on pesticides, may signal a new approach from the White House; Bush’s previous EPA administrators, Christie Whitman and Mike Leavitt, were both significant players in the Republican Party (and one of them still is!). Johnson will preside over some tough battles, including a contentious one now under way about how to regulate mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club, was fairly beside himself with enthusiasm, calling Johnson “the best we could expect as a nominee from the Bush administration.”