Stephen Johnson, President Bush's choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency faces a new hurdle in his quest to win Senate confirmation. Sen. Thomas Carper (D-Del.) announced April 14 that he would put a "hold" on Johnson's nomination, which effectively bars floor consideration. Carper's move comes one day after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee cleared Johnson's nomination to be EPA administrator. The vote was 17-1, with Carper the lone "no."

Johnson is Bush's pick to lead EPA (Photo by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Carper unhappy EPA hasn't provide analysis for Clean Air bills
(Photo by the office Sen. Thomas Carper)

Carper has criticized EPA for months, for failing to provide him with what he views as adequate economic data related to Clean Air legislation he has proposed. Carper met with Johnson in the evening of April 13, but wasn't satisfied with the nominee's response, according to Bill Ghent, Carper's spokesman. Under Senate procedures, a hold from even one of the chamber's members can block a nomination from being considered.

Carper said in an Apr. 13 statement: "Repeatedly, I've asked the EPA to conduct a detailed, technical analysis of the economic and health benefits of my Clean Air proposal. I've been consistently denied, even though what I'm asking for is simple. The EPA has run a detailed health and cost estimate of the President's Clear Skies plan. I want the same type of analysis completed on my bill because I believe it's essential to help us craft a clean air compromise bill this year."

Several days earlier, Johnson had cleared another roadblock when Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she wouldn't hold up his nomination. Boxer dropped her opposition after Johnson canceled an EPA study of children's exposure to pesticides. Boxer called the study "immoral." Johnson said, "Information from the study was intended to help EPA better protect children."

Johnson has spent 24 years at EPA, and rose through the agency to become head of its office of prevention, pesticides and toxic substances in 2001. Last year he was named EPA's deputy administrator.