Ties to Polluters Could Compromise Leavitt at EPA, Say Critics

Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R), President Bush’s nominee to head the U.S. EPA, has strong financial ties to polluters, which critics say cast doubt on his ability to do the job fairly and effectively. Nearly 10 percent of the campaign funds Leavitt raised over the last 10 years came from oil refineries, mining firms, landfill operators, and other companies that have unresolved EPA pollution violations. A coalition of Utah environmental groups yesterday released a white paper outlining weaknesses in Leavitt’s environmental record in Utah, alleging, among other things, that polluters in the state were rarely sanctioned unless the federal government stepped in. The groups also pointed out that under Leavitt, Utah earned the dubious distinction of having the second-highest level of toxic releases in the nation and tied for last place in enforcement of the Clean Water Act.