President Bush said he will nominate John Peter Suarez, a former aide to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, to be EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement. The Feb. 27 announcement comes about five months after Bush's first nominee, former Ohio EPA director Donald R. Schregardus, withdrew from consideration when the Senate indicated it would not confirm him.
When Whitman was governor of New Jersey, Suarez was her assistant counsel. Since March 1999, Suarez has been director of New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement. He was an assistant U.S. attorney between 1992 and 1998.
EPA also announced that former Senate staffer Steven J. Shimberg has been appointed associate assistant administrator for enforcement. Shimberg most recently was the National Wildlife Federation's vice president for federal and international affairs. Before that, he was staff director and chief counsel to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee when the late Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.) was the panel's chairman.
Schregardus, director of the Ohio EPA from 1991 to 1999, was criticized by environmental groups for the state agency's enforcement record while he was its leader. Two Democratic Senators had put a "hold" on his nomination as EPA's enforcement chief.
A U.S. EPA draft review released in September found that if the Ohio agency didn't improve its implementation of Clean Air Act activities, the federal agency might have to withdraw or revoke the state's authority to carry out those programs. Not long after that, Schregardus said he was withdrawing his name for the U.S. EPA job. Schregardus had his supporters, including Whitman, who his "qualifications and record than prepared him" for the federal enforcement post.