Who do you think should lead the U.S. EPA?


Steve Ramsey

It’s speculation time in DC. What should President-elect Obama’s Environmental, Health & Safety and Sustainability priorities be and what are your views of the people rumored to be in the running for Administrator? This is your chance to let the incoming Administration’s political transition team hear your (anonymous) voice about who should head relevant federal departments for our profession:

I’ll start on the issues:

  1. Climate change – No shocker! It’s time for action; time to get the US in the game shaping the future rather than playing ostrich. What should a US program look like and what are your biggest concerns?
  2. Priorities for the next 4 years – Sounds mundane, but in a government that will be severely constrained, establishing priorities in a transparent process involving industry and NGOs is critical. Not an endless Commission but a fast, focused discussion that sets the agenda. No grid lockers invited! We can’t do everything; what can wait and what should move ahead?
  3. Finally, the people – I’ve included a list of names I’ve seen circulated for some of the top spots relevant to us. I welcome your comments and thoughts on these potential picks:


  • Ian Bowles, Secretary of Energy and Environment, Commonwealth of Massachusetts
  • Dan Esty, Yale Law School Professor and Author
  • Lisa P. Jackson, Commissioner of Environmental Protection, New Jersey
  • Robert (Bobby) Kennedy, Jr. – Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and President of Waterkeeper
  • Jonathan Lash, President of World Resources Institute
  • Kathleen McGinty, former Secretary of Environmental Protection, Pennsylvania
  • Mary Nichols, Head of California Air Resources Board

CEQ – Council on Environmental Quality

  • Carol Browner, Former Administrator of the U.S. EPA
  • Phillip Cooney, currently Chief of Staff at CEQ
  • Howard Learner, President & Exec. Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • DISBANDED…? Entity will be rolled into a newly-formed White House Energy Security Council


  • David Hayes, Partner – Latham & Watkins and former Deputy Secretary, US Dept. of the Interior
  • Former Governor John Kitzhaber, Oregon
  • Former Governor Tony Knowles, Alaska
  • Senator Ken Salazar, Colorado
About Steven Ramsey

Steven Ramsey is a former Vice President at General Electric Co., where he focused heavily on the development and implementation of world-class corporate environment, health and safety (EHS) policies, management systems and programs on a global scale. He enjoys exploring strategies for gaining a seat at the executive table and winning approaches for showcasing the value EHS brings to the corporate enterprise.

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  1. Mario

    November 24, 2008

    I think agencies like EPA, OSHA, and NIOSH should be led by true EHS professionals (or by E and H&S professionals, respectively) and not by political appointees who do not have a true educational and working background in EHS. These agencies should not be subject to political turmoil winds either. By the way, who do you think should be nominated to lead OSHA and NIOSH?

  2. Donald W. Stever

    November 25, 2008

    I agree with Steve’s take on the three issues. On the Administration picks:

    EPA – Should be a seasoned EHS person, an environmental legal or policy scholar, or a respected seasoned state environmental agency head, and certainly should not be a politician or an environmental activist.

    CEQ – Should disappear forever as it has come to serve no useful function.

    DOI – Should be an individual with relevant experience in the West and should not be a lawyer.

  3. Bob G

    December 11, 2008

    Pretty good call on the selections Steve…

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