- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Opting for a career agency personality after two consecutive politicians, President Bush named Acting EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson the agency's new chief early last month, hailing him as the first professional scientist to serve in the office.
Johnson has been with the EPA for 24 years, most recently serving as the acting administrator since the president nominated former chief Mike Leavitt to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He also acted as deputy administrator following the departure of Bush's first EPA administrator, Christine Whitman. Both Whitman (New Jersey) and Leavitt (Utah) were governors before assuming command of the EPA.
Johnson's own background is in the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) and the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP), where he had served in administrative roles since 1994. As stated in his inaugural address as acting chief, the new administrator is expected to stress the “maintenance and utilization of sound science, while using collaborative, innovative approaches to solving environmental problems.”
Johnson appears to be a popular choice among both environmental and industry groups. “His experience and temperament make him a solid choice to lead the agency at this time,” said Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., of Johnson. Even the Sierra Club, an environmentalist organization known for its staunch condemnation of the current administration's environmental agenda, agreed that Johnson was the best choice they could hope for. With such widespread support, a political fight over Johnson's nomination in the Senate seems unlikely.
Read more about Stephen L. Johnson at www.epa.gov/adminweb.