Whitman’s Deputy at EPA Also Quits

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From Associated Press

The second-highest ranking official at the Environmental Protection Agency resigned Thursday, a day before administrator Christie Whitman is set to leave her job to return to New Jersey.

Permanent replacements for EPA’s top jobs could be months away, Whitman said.

Linda Fisher, the deputy administrator, had been seen as a possible successor to Whitman, who took over the agency after serving as New Jersey governor. Fisher told President Bush in her resignation letter that she plans to step down July 11.

Several administration officials said they do not expect Bush to name a successor to Whitman before her final day. It could be mid-July before Bush decides on a new administrator, a White House official said Thursday.


That means Fisher will serve as acting administrator between the time Whitman leaves and her own departure. After both have left, a new acting administrator, and, possibly, acting deputy administrator would be appointed to lead the agency temporarily, Whitman said.

But after a half-hour meeting Thursday morning with Bush at the White House, Whitman said she had the impression he might wait until fall, after the Senate returns from summer recess, to nominate permanent replacements for the top posts, which require Senate confirmation. That would shorten the time Bush’s selections would be exposed to public scrutiny.

Like Whitman, Fisher wrote that she wanted to spend more time with her family. She called it “a rare privilege” to serve in the Bush administration, under Whitman’s leadership.

“I am also proud that, as deputy administrator, I have had the opportunity to contribute to the long record of environmental protection achieved by this agency under seven presidents over more than three decades,” Fisher said. “While much work remains to be done, I look forward, at this time in my life, to spending more time with my two young children.”

Fisher could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Her decision could indicate a further narrowing of the list of candidates to head EPA. Other names frequently circulated include GOP Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho and Tom Skinner, an EPA regional administrator for the Midwest region whose father, Sam, was White House chief of staff for Bush’s father.