Senate confirms Johnson to head EPA

Scientist and career agency veteran Stephen Johnson is the new head of the U.S. EPA. After a confirmation process that was oddly turbulent given the mild-mannered bureaucrat’s generally warm reception on both sides of the aisle, the Senate voted 61-37 just after midnight last night to approve a cloture motion, which put an end to the procedural roadblock in Johnson’s way, and thereafter quickly confirmed him. The roadblock in question was a hold put on the confirmation by appropriately named Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). Carper’s beef was not with Johnson but with the Bush administration, which has refused to authorize studies of the relative effectiveness of alternatives to its Clear Skies legislation. Earlier, the confirmation was stalled by two other Democratic senators objecting to a study on child pesticide exposure, which Johnson agreed to scrap. He replaces Mike Leavitt, who left to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Good luck, Mr. Johnson.