How Many More Recess Appointments?
April 6, 2006 - 10:08am ET
If you were President Bush and wanted an industry-friendly air pollution czar at EPA, whom would you pick? How about a former polluter-industry lawyer who’s already had a hand in the worst Bush dirty-air atrocities?
That’s exactly what we have in the president’s nominee for EPA assistant administrator for air pollution—William Wehrum, a former Latham & Watkins lawyer.
Consider some highlights of Wehrum’s record as an under-the-radar political appointee at EPA since 2001: he helped write rules to protect the power industry (a Latham & Watkins client) from having to clean up toxic mercury emissions—and the rules contained language provided by his old law firm. EPA’s inspector general noted the rules were written to achieve a predetermined outcome.
Wehrum crafted rules to permit coal-burning electric power plants to avoid pollution controls—a plan unanimously shot down last month by a federal appeals court.
And he tried unsuccessfully to sell Congress on the Orwellian Bush “clear skies” legislation, which would cut breaks for industry and shield them from global warming controls.
Most recently, Wehrum drafted a plan that would permit smokestack industries to increase chemical emissions, personally coached the cattle industry how to avoid pollution controls and helped brainstorm a scheme to reduce the role of EPA scientists in setting clean-air standards.
Yes, Wehrum would be perfect—for the polluters.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., says she’ll lead a filibuster against the nomination. But, polluters, never fear: Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, predicts the president will bypass Congress altogether and appoint Wehrum during a congressional recess.
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