Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Mr. Pollution Strikes Again: Inhofe Pushes for Unqualified EPA Nominee

Senator James Inhofe, ever the protector of the power industry (a.k.a major air polluters) recently attacked Democrats for holding up the confirmation of William Wehrum, Bush’s nominee to head the EPA Office of Air and Radiation. In a release issued by his Environment and Public Works Committee, Inhofe called Senate Democrat’s “obstructionist tactics of Mr. Wehrum’s nomination” “simply despicable.” “It is outrageous that Democrats used a little used procedural move to further delay a highly qualified EPA nominee in Bill Wehrum.” (Release, 8/4/06)

Democrats have opposed Wehrum’s nomination for a number of reasons, the least of which is he played a major role in relaxing air emission standards, namely easing pollution rules for electric power plants. (Austin American-Statesman, 4/27/06)

In April of this year, a number of representatives of environmental organizations wrote a letter to a number of senators expressing their opposition to the nomination. The letter highlighted the many policies Wehrum crafted that have weakened public health and environmental protections. Especially noteworthy are key changes to the Clean Air Act’s new source review (NSR) protections, which were subsequently struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

William Wehrum previously worked as a lobbyist for Latham & Watkins, where he specialized in clean air matters and represented some of the biggest polluters in the country, according to a report done by Public Citizen. The man he has been nominated to replace, Jeffrey Holmstead, is also a Latham & Watkins alum.

Wehrum came under fire by lawmakers in 2004 for authoring a new EPA that took language, sometimes verbatim, from position papers supplied by his former employer, then representing the utility industry. “A side-by-side comparison of one of the three proposed rules and the memorandums prepared by Latham & Watkins -- one of Washington's premier corporate environmental law firms -- shows that at least a dozen paragraphs were lifted, sometimes verbatim, from the industry suggestions.” (Washington Post, 1/31/04)

This revelation prompted Democratic Congressmen Thomas Allen and Henry Waxman to send EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt a letter requesting further investigation into this matter. (States News Service, 2/12/04)

Despite all this evidence suggesting Wehrum is not exactly a “clean air” candidate, Inhofe still claims “his qualifications are unchallenged and he has a proven record of accomplishment on clean air.” (Environment and Public Works Release, 4/26/06) Spoken like a true industry warrior…


At 4:43 PM, Blogger DeSmogBlog said...

What!? Inhofe isn;t the "clean air" candidate?! But he only got $582,965 from the natural resource/oil sector this year....


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