Three leading candidates are being considered for the position of head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 8 office in Denver within the Trump administration.
Todd Parfitt, Patrick Davis, and Doug Benevento are the frontrunners for the role, covering Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and 27 Tribal Nations, as reported by E&E News or confirmed by various industry sources.
Collaborating with the EPA Administrator, regional administrators play a crucial role in overseeing EPA operations and implementing all agency programs within their designated region.
With 10 regional offices covering all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and overseas territories, these administrators are responsible for more than just desk duties.
According to a former Region 8 official, candidates must not only possess knowledge of the subject matter they regulate but also be ready for duties critical to each region’s office.
Jim Martin, who served as the Region 8 administrator during the Obama administration, emphasized the importance of an EPA regional administrator understanding the relevant statutes and being well-prepared for disaster response responsibilities within the EPA’s purview.
Currently serving as the Director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Todd Parfitt is recognized for his expertise in environmental regulatory issues by Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
In an April letter published by E&E News and addressed to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Senator Barrasso referred to Parfitt as a “distinguished public servant” who has accumulated extensive knowledge in environmental regulatory matters at the EPA. Parfitt has dedicated many years to his service in the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
“Equally important, Mr. Parfitt has firsthand experience with the economic burdens that occur when federal and state requirements are duplicative. He is well poised to identify these issues and support the EPA in advancing policies that both protect our environment and promote economic growth,” Barrasso wrote. Barrasso is the chairman of the Senate committee with oversight of the EPA.
Patrick Davis, a political consultant who was part of the Trump “beachhead” team for the agency, garnered support from at least two members of Congress.
Both Representative Bob Bishop (R-Utah) and Representative Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) submitted letters to the EPA, as reported by E&E News, endorsing Davis for the position. This political backing adds to Davis’s credentials in the race for the role.
“I am confident that he will be an asset to the agency. As a member of the administration’s “beachhead” team at EPA, Patrick has demonstrated he can work successfully to implement the Trump administration’s agenda,” Bishop wrote. “Patrick is a team player and works hard to seamlessly interface multiple levels of government, ensuring that national policy is right for the diverse regions across America. This is a valuable trait in any regional director.”
The letters endorsing Davis were made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by E&E News. Doug Benevento, currently the Director of Energy Policy at Xcel Energy and former executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, has also been identified as a candidate, as confirmed by multiple independent sources.
During the spring, the Colorado Mining Association expressed support for Parfitt, but Stan Dempsey Jr., the organization’s president, emphasized a positive relationship with Benevento, valuing his past leadership at the state agency.
“What is really important is to have someone to head the EPA regional office that has a wealth of experience as a state regulator.” Dempsey told Western Wire. “That is why CMA endorsed Parfitt. But Benevento certainly meets that criterion as well.”
“When it comes to a Region 8 Administrator, the President and Administrator Pruitt might consider a non-traditional candidate – someone who knows the issues but doesn’t have industry or special interest lobbying baggage,” said Amy Oliver Cooke, Executive Vice President of the Independence Institute, a libertarian think tank in Denver, told Western Wire via email. A candidate should be “someone who has proven that he or she shares the Administration’s priorities of energy dominance and responsible environmental stewardship and can be a strong manager of a large agency.”
Cooke, a member of the Trump administration’s EPA transition team after the November election, expressed the hope that the next administrator will consider all six states in the Region 8 jurisdiction, not solely focusing on Colorado.
The potential nominees for Region 8 emerge as the Trump administration appoints regulators to various EPA regional offices nationwide.
Cathy Stepp, former high-ranking official in the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, has been appointed as the Principal Deputy Regional Administrator for Region 7, covering key Midwestern states such as Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. Stepp is also serving as the acting regional administrator until a replacement is named by Pruitt.
Additionally, at least two regional EPA offices will be actively involved in disaster responses, including the new administrator for Region 4, overseeing Florida and other states impacted by Hurricane Irma.
In late August, Scott Pruitt appointed Trey Glenn, the former director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, as the Region 4 Administrator.
Pruitt stated that Glenn would assist in implementing President Trump’s vision for a more streamlined and efficient EPA, with a focus on the agency’s core mission and providing regulatory certainty to businesses across the nation.
Region 4 oversees EPA activities in eight states: Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
You may also enjoy reading: Federal Court Orders New EIS For Dakota Access Pipeline.