Byline: The Register-Guard
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt brings unanswered questions to his new role as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. This week, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Bush's nomination of Leavitt to succeed Christine Todd Whitman as EPA chief.
Democratic senators stalled Leavitt's confirmation for 56 days because of their unhappiness with the Bush administration's environmental record. Yet Leavitt himself came to Washington, D.C., with a record that does not reflect unremitting hostility to environmental laws and regulations. Most intriguingly, he collaborated with former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber in 1997 to promote a concept they termed "enlibra," a word they coined as "a symbol of balance and stewardship." Enlibra's essence was to somehow meld, among other things, market-based economics, local empowerment, collaborative decision-making and incentive-driven processes.
Kitzhaber's Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watershed Restoration and Leavitt's Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission, created to clear up the haze over the Utah-Arizona border, are examples of the two governors' attempts to resolve difficult environmental problems through partnerships and local action rather than top-down mandates.
The Bush administration is plainly unenthusiastic about environmental protection. During her tenure, Whitman was whipsawed between her legal obligations to protect the nation's air, land and water and the administration's pursuit of industry-friendly policies. …