Horinko Is Named Interim EPA Administrator

Published August 1, 2003

Senior EPA official Marianne Horinko was appointed on July 10 as the second interim EPA Administrator to serve since Christie Whitman’s resignation. Horinko replaces Linda Fisher, the EPA deputy administrator under Whitman, who replaced Whitman briefly prior to Fisher’s own resignation.

Horinko has spearheaded a variety of high-profile EPA activities, including the post-9/11 World Trade Center cleanup, EPA’s post-9/11 anthrax efforts, the recovery of wreckage from the space shuttle Columbia, and the Bush administration’s brownfields legislation.

“She has proven herself very able to walk tightropes and work with the different interest groups, as well as with business and industry interests,” said Whitman.

Horinko is “an experienced professional we have worked with in the past, and we look forward to working with her” in her new position, said Mike Cantanzaro, a spokesman for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Fisher had submitted her resignation letter before Whitman left office, but agreed to lead EPA for two weeks while President Bush searched for another interim leader. Fisher said in her resignation letter she had considered it an honor to serve under the President, but was looking forward to spending more time with her family.

Meanwhile, speculation continues as to the most likely permanent replacement for Whitman. Idaho Republican Governor Dirk Kempthorne is frequently mentioned as the leading candidate, but Bush’s decision to name Horinko rather than Kempthorne as the interim administrator surprised many observers.

Whitman’s resignation and the selection of a permanent successor present the White House “with an outstanding opportunity to choose a leader who can bring the agency into the 21st century,” said Fred Smith, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Now is the time for a clear-thinking reformer to overhaul the increasingly outdated legal and regulatory structure that EPA continues to labor under.”

Added Smith, “This is the most important regulatory appointment in the administration and we need someone who can develop thoughtful, innovative environmental policy. Every EPA administrator, with the exception of Lee Thomas, has been part of the environmental establishment, and they have not been effective in moving environmental policy forward. There should be no rush to nominate someone from the same old faces. We need to pick someone from outside the establishment to make any progress.”

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected].