Reacting to the news that the Bush administration's first failed environmental nominee has resurfaced in another high-level position, Earthjustice called the move, "a deliberate and backdoor attempt to continue down a clear anti-environmental path." Donald Schregardus, the embattled and defeated nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement division, has now been named to a new environmental position – the Navy's Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Environment – that, unlike the EPA post, does not require Senate confirmation.
Schregardus was recently appointed to the new post of Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Environment for the Navy's Installations and Environment Division and is reportedly scheduled to begin work Tuesday. The post was created when another position -- Assistant Deputy Secretary for Environment and Safety -- was divided into two positions, possibly to create a spot for Schregardus. The new position appears to be in charge of compliance with environmental laws and clean up of hazardous waste sites for the Navy.
"We are pleased that the White House is taking an interest in recycling," said Earthjustice policy analyst Maria Weidner. "Unfortunately, they're recycling a bad nominee by trying to again put him, again, in an important environmental position."
Schregardus had been the Bush administration's nominee to head EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, but withdrew his nomination in mid-September after drawing fire from national, regional, and Ohio environmental groups, as well as several US Senators. Factors involved several troubling aspects of Schregardus's track record as director of Ohio EPA, including:
· Schregardus's opposition while at Ohio EPA to every federal initiative to clean up the nation's dirtiest power plants and his role in the agency's decision to disregard a federal mandate that called for the reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions from utilities.
· A ruling by a US administrative law judge that found Schregardus and other Ohio EPA officials guilty of violating the whistleblower provisions of seven federal environmental statutes and of misrepresenting possible threats to human health at contaminated sites in Marion, Ohio.
· During Schregardus' tenure at Ohio EPA, legal actions brought by the agency to force polluters to clean up contaminated sites fell by more than 50 percent.
"The announcement that Mr. Schregardus has been appointed to this environmental position is particularly disturbing because one of his most pronounced failures in Ohio involved not cleaning up contaminated sites -- including a military site in River Valley that is the likely cause of a cancer cluster in that community," asserted Weidner. "Schregardus will almost certainly face similar situations in his new position, which appears to have responsibility for site cleanups and environmental compliance for the Navy. "
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.