The Bush administration late yesterday announced their intent to nominate John Paul Woodley to the position of Assistant Secretary for the Army, Office of Civil Works. The job oversees the Army Corps of Engineers and carries responsibility for executing civil works programs such as locks, dams and levees on the nation’s rivers and for administering the laws that are meant to protect and preserve our rivers, streams, and wetlands.
“This appointment is key to the future of our nation’s waters and requires someone dedicated to the protection these valuable resources,” said Maria Weidner. “Mr. Woodley’s environmental record raises questions about whether he is committed to this task.”
Woodley previously served under both Governor Allen and Governor Gilmore of Virginia, both administrations known for anti-environmental policies. In 1997, during Allen’s tenure, the Environmental Protection Agency threatened to take over Virginia’s environmental programs because of concerns that the state was unwilling or unable to enforce anti-pollution laws.
Woodley served as Secretary of Natural Resources under Governor Gilmore from 1998 through 2001, overseeing eight state agencies responsible for environment and natural resource protection, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. While Woodley touted clean water as a priority, several troubling policies were proposed by the state and agencies he oversaw on environmental quality matters, including:
- An effort by the DEQ in May 2001 to allow elevated levels of fecal bacteria in some streams;
- A proposed $13.6 million cut in funding for environmental programs in January 2001, and;
- DEQ’s decision to bow to the poultry industry in December of 1999 by choosing not to issue regulations to track poultry manure, thus seriously harming the effectiveness of a state law meant to keep poultry fecal matter out of Virginia waters.
As Deputy Attorney General for Government Operations under Governor Allen from 1994 to 1998, Woodley provided day-to-day legal advice to the state’s environmental agencies and managed all litigation in which they were concerned. He also led legal efforts to oppose adoption of “California car” requirements to reduce air pollution in Northern Virginia.
Once Woodley is officially nominated, the Senate must approve him. “We urge all Senators to carefully review Mr. Woodley’s record to ensure that he is indeed committed to protecting the health of our nation’s waters,” concluded Weidner.