Bush withdraws controversial EPA nominations

Earlier this month, we reported that President Bush was re-dangling three controversial names for key environmental positions in his administration, suggesting that he might appoint them while Congress was on a break. While he did manage to push one such recess appointment through last week — Susan Dudley as White House regulations chief — he has pulled the other two nominations: William Wehrum for head of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation and Alex Beehler for EPA inspector general. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Environment and Public Works Committee chair, had blocked the nominations when they first arose last year, then agreed to hold a confirmation hearing this month to avoid any sneaky appointments. But fearing the hearing was a lost cause, Wehrum and Beehler are said to have withdrawn their own names. Critics had pointed to Wehrum’s weak work as acting EPA air chief and Beehler’s oil-industry ties; Boxer called the withdrawals “good news” and did a little end-zone dance. In our heads.