After weeks of delay, the Senate voted Oct. 28 to approve the nomination of Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt to be the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The vote was 88-8.

Action on Leavitt’s nomination was held up first in the Environment and Public Works Committee, by Democrats who oppose Bush administration environmental policies. They boycotted, and thus scuttled, a scheduled Oct. 1 committee vote on the nomination.

Then after the panel voted Oct.15 to confirm Leavitt, a floor vote was put off because of "holds" that several Democrats had placed on his nomination. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) was the last lawmaker to release her hold, which she did on Oct. 27. She was among those voting to confirm Leavitt.


Clinton has been at odds with the White House over reports on New York City air quality in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, destruction of the World Trade Center. She now says that over the past several weeks her office has "been in negotiations with the White House over the serious matters concerning the clean up around Ground Zero and the continuing threat of contamination in residences and workplaces in Lower Manhattan."

She says that an agreement has been reached and that she has "received a commitment to action from the White House to address these indoor air quality concerns."

That commitment includes additional testing of residences to ensure they have not been recontaminated. The White House also pledges to appoint a panel of experts to reevaluate a range of air quality issues raised in a report by EPA’s inspector general.

(Photo courtesy office of Gov. Leavitt)