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Bush’s EPA Nominee Has Relaxed Rules For Polluters, Weakened Clean Air Legislation

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"Bush’s EPA Nominee Has Relaxed Rules For Polluters, Weakened Clean Air Legislation"

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William Wehrum, President Bush’s nominee to head the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), has earned a reputation in Washington as “the behind-the-scenes architect” of some of the Bush administration’s most controversial initiatives. Some lowlights:

- Wehrum was a lead author of Bush’s “Clear Skies” legislation, which would have loosened emissions caps on dangerous airborne toxins.

- In 2002, while serving as OAR’s general counsel, Wehrum shepherded through a rule written by forest products industry lobbyists that relaxed the emission standards for formaldehyde. Wehrum had previously represented those same timber interests as a lobbyist.

- In 2004, Wehrum implemented new industry-friendly mercury guidelines that substantially weakened the Clean Air Act. Again, Wehrum’s former lobbying firm played an instrumental role in drafting the rule.

- Just this week, a draft of a new air pollution rule, drafted under the oversight of Wehrum, came under fire from congressional leaders. The proposal would allow polluters to discharge thousands of pounds of airborne toxins while “virtually avoiding regulation.

The good news: Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) plans to put a hold on Wehrum’s nomination if it moves to the Senate floor.

- Mike Darner

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