In Leavitt’s Wake, Kempthorne on Short List for EPA Head

After serving little more than a year at the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), former three-term Utah governor Mike Leavitt is getting a promotion to head up the Bush administration’s Department of Health and Human Services. Leavitt is known for towing the Republican party line, and is expected to be easily confirmed to replace outgoing HHS secretary Tommy Thompson.

Mike Leavitt© EPA

Whom the Bush camp will tap to take over the EPA is anybody’s guess at this point. Congressional insiders speculate that Idaho’s outspoken and conservative Republican governor Dirk Kempthorne is probably on the short list, as he was considered for the position last time around, and shares similar pro-development values with the President.

But the EPA post might be a tough sell indeed. “EPA is a dead-end job in a Republican administration—one whose occupant is certain to be pummeled by the cross-pressures from advocacy and industry groups,” opines syndicated columnist David Broder. In any case, environmentalists are hopeful that whomever the Bush administration does select will build on the short list of positive achievements during Leavitt’s term, including a recently completed Great Lakes restoration plan.

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