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Jed Boal reporting One day before Governor Mike Leavitt begins confirmation hearings on whether he'll head the Environmental Protection Agency, several Utah environmental groups line up in opposition.
The Governor has positioned himself as a moderate, but the Utah coalition contends he has a poor environmental record.
The Governor has already come under a lot of scrutiny. It's starting to intensify, and the confirmation could be a brusing process.
Governor Leavitt is withholding comment heading into the hearing, and says he will let the U-S Senate judge his fitness.
A half-dozen Utah environmental watchdog groups today, sent a letter to the chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
In it, they charge the Governor with being far more interested in weakening the environment than protecting it...and safeguarding public health.
They cite the Governor's efforts to push the Legacy Highway, while ignoring opposition and E-P-S concerns about the route.
The conservationists also cite the Governor for closed-door negotiations in Washington to settle a long dispute over rights of way across federal lands...thereby restricting public lands protection.
The coalition believes Leavitt was nominated to support Bush Administration policies, which they call abysmal in terms of protecting public lands, air and water quality.
Jason Groenewald/Families Against Incinerator Risk: "IF HE CARRIES OUT THE AGENDA AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL THAT HE HAS HERE AT THE STATE LEVEL, WE'LL BE FACED WITH AN E-P-A THAT IS NOTHING MORE THAN A TOOTHLESS WATCHDOG."
"GOVERNOR LEAVITT HAS BEEN MODERATE IN HIS LANGUAGE, BUT SOMEWHAT EXTREME IN HIS ACTIONS, AND I THINK THAT MAKES HIM AN ATTRACTIVE CANDIDATE TO THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION. "
The hearing tomorrow is slated to last a day. Then the full Senate will debate the nomination. That's where it could become contentious. Four U-S Senators have put a hold on the nomination. But, the Governor has said he has a feeling it will all work out.