Tech advocate named to lead EPA

Environmental Protection Agency

President Bush has selected Utah's Republican governor, Mike Leavitt, a noted information technology advocate, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Leavitt is the nation's longest-serving governor, having held office since 1992. Leavitt, who must be confirmed by the Senate, would succeed Christine Todd Whitman, who resigned from the EPA in May.

"Mike Leavitt will come to the EPA with a strong environmental record and a strong desire to improve on what has taken place during the last three decades," Bush said. "Gov. Leavitt has been a leader in applying high standards in air quality, and he understands the importance of clear standards in every environmental policy."

In addition to his environmental work, Leavitt has set aggressive e-government goals, including having all appropriate state government services online by 2004.

He has also pushed for statewide broadband access and promoted paperless government initiatives, including an electronic procurement system that lets Utah departments manage purchases online.

As governor, Leavitt's environmental record includes actively opposing the storage of high-level nuclear waste in Utah. He also helped create the Western Regional Air Partnership, which promotes regional strategies for cleaner air.

Leavitt's confirmation may face tough opposition from Democrats and environmental groups who oppose his advocacy for state power in place of federal regulation. Critics are wary of Leavitt's vision for managing natural resources, which Leavitt outlined in his Enlibra Doctrine, which documents the principles of moving power to state and regional levels.

After saying that "President Bush has the worst environmental record in history," Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) questioned Leavitt's impending confirmation.

"The American people deserve to know whether Gov. Leavitt shares that same disregard for clean air, clean water, land conservation and global warming as the president," Lieberman said. "Protecting our environment is too important — and the damage done by the Bush administration too great — to confirm a nominee that does."

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