U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Transition Into New Leadership
As the 45th President of the United States is sworn into his new office, there is still uncertainty surrounding many of the other offices within the new administration. In an effort to relieve a bit of that uncertainty, the EPA’s Deputy Administrator, Stanley Meiburg released a memorandum on January 7th detailing Friday’s transition process and identifying many of the new acting senior managers. Immediately following the inauguration, career EPA senior managers will serve in acting roles as the assistant, associate, and regional administrator until the new administration’s leaders are appointed, confirmed, and taken office.
Transition Period Leaders
During this transition period, Assistant Administrator positions will be held by Donna Vizian in the Office of Administration and Resource Management, Sarah Dunham in the Office of Air and Radiation, Lawrence Starfield in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Jane Nishida in the Office of Internal and Tribal Affairs, Steven Fine in the Office of Environmental Information, Barry Breen in the Office of Land and Emergency Management, Wendy Cleland-Hamnett in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Robert Kavlock in the Office of Research and Development, and Michael Shapiro in the Office of Water. David Bloomwill will transition from Deputy Chief Financial Officer to Financial Office and Kevin Minoli, previously Principal Deputy General Counsel, will act as General Counsel.
Ten Deputy Regional Administrators will assume the roles of Regional Administrators – Deborah Szaro for Region 1, Catherine McCabe for Region 2, Cecil Rodrigues for Region 3, Anne Heard for Region 4, Robert Kaplan for Region 5, Samuel Coleman for Region 6, Edward H. Chu for Region 7, Debra Thomas for Region 8, Alexis Strauss for Region 9, and Michelle Pirzadeh for Region 10. Each position on the interim team is held by a career EPA senior manager, either changing positions in a current department or transitioning to another EPA department.
Attorney General to EPA Administrator
Current Deputy Administrator Meiburg may be replaced by President Donald Trump’s nominee, Scott Pruitt, the current Oklahoma Attorney General. Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation hearings began on Wednesday, January 18th with questioning from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The Kentucky native practiced law for five years before elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 1998, where he served as both the Republican whip and the Republican Assistant Floor Leader. He became the Oklahoma Attorney General in January 2011, where he established the Federalism Unit to protect citizens from unwarranted regulation and overreach by the federal government. Mr. Pruitt, generally an advocate of states holding the power of environmental regulation, has filed lawsuits against EPA regulations, specifically challenging the EPA’s authority over states and businesses. He has been advised to recuse himself from cases currently active once acting as EPA Administrator.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on January 18th that 2016 was the warmest year on record. There is no doubt that climate change and other environmental issues will be at the center of attention immediately following the inauguration.