Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No One Seems to Want to Run the EPA in California

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No One Seems to Want to Run the EPA in California

Article excerpt

Byline: Evan Halper Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON | Perhaps it is unsurprising that the White House still hasn't filled this job: San Francisco is not an inviting place for the Make America Great Again administration.

But the administration's effort to fill one of its most important environmental jobs - chief of the Environmental Protection Agency's headquarters for California and the rest of the Pacific Southwest - keeps going sideways.

On Tuesday, an oil and gas lobbyist from New Mexico whom, according to several people inside the Trump administration, was poised to fill the post told the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Washington Bureau it was all a big mistake. He'd be staying in New Mexico.

"I am not leaving my current role as Executive Director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association for any position at EPA or elsewhere within the federal government," said an email from Ryan Flynn.

That unwavering declaration caught some in the administration off guard. Flynn had already been spotted at EPA offices, where staff in the building reported he was fingerprinted, a final step before assuming the role as head of EPA Region 9.

This was at least the second time the Trump administration had an oil industry executive bow out of the running for the Region 9 job in a late stage of vetting. In other cases, candidates had been approached, but took a pass before talks got that far.

The job is proving to be one of the least soughtafter leadership roles in the administration. Region 9 is the only one of EPA's 10 regional headquarters that still lacks a chief.

The assignment is to carry out the Trump agenda - industryfriendly and averse to action to combat climate change - in one of the nation's most environmentally active states. The post is guaranteed to come with daily confrontation with the state's battleready leaders, not to mention the hordes of protesters who can make just getting to and from work in San Francisco a professional hazard.

"The saying goes that there are nine EPA regions and then there is Region 9," said Jared Blumenfeld, who ran that office during the Obama administration. …

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