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ENVIRONMENT REPORT — August 29, 2003: Bush Chooses Utah Governor to Head the Environmental Protection Agency - 2003-08-28

This is the VOA Special English Environment Report.

President Bush has nominated the governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt, to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Christine Todd Whitman resigned as administrator and left office in June.

Mister Leavitt, also a Republican, is fifty-two years old. He has served the longest of all the current governors in the United States. Utah voters first elected him to lead the western state in nineteen-ninety-two. He is in his third term.

Mister Leavitt told the New York Times about two of the environmental efforts he considers among his most successful. One was his work with a group to reduce air pollution over the Grand Canyon in Arizona and other national parks. That effort involved thirteen states, thirteen Indian tribes and three federal agencies.

He also noted a major cleanup effort recently completed to reclaim water from a copper mine near Salt Lake City. The governor brought together environmentalists, government officials and mining officials. As a result, he says, the project was completed in just five years. It also avoided the need to spend huge amounts of federal money.

Among other environmental issues, the governor has opposed federal efforts to store nuclear waste in Utah.

Mister Leavitt supports a set of ideas for protecting air, land and water. He and a former Democratic governor of Oregon put forward these ideas called "Enlibra." The Western Governors Association accepts Enlibra as its policy. Mister Leavitt has led that group.

The ideas call for working together to seek a balance in environmental decisions. Mister Leavitt says the costs of programs must be weighed against the good they will do.

The Utah governor is generally described as a moderate. Not everyone, though, is pleased with his record on the environment. A lot of environmental leaders say he has not done an especially good job.

Critics point to the governor’s plan to build a major road through wetlands near the Great Salt Lake. A federal court stopped that project. Critics also say Mister Leavitt is too willing to permit the use of public lands for oil drilling, mining and tree-cutting.

His nomination to become the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency requires approval by the Senate. The Senate plans to hold confirmation hearings in September.

This VOA Special English Environment Report was written by Mario Ritter.