LET'S GET PRESIDENTIAL - The mating dance has begun as top Republican presidential candidates try to snare seasoned energy experts for their campaign. Mitt Romney is off to a strong start, rubbing elbows with Mike Leavitt - a former Utah governor who led the EPA during the Bush administration - and seeking counsel from Jeff Holmstead, a fellow Mormon and former top Bush EPA air pollution chief who now works on K Street with Bracewell & Giuliani.
A few notes: Leavitt was incredibly canny while at EPA. He took credit for a diesel cleanup program created by career staffers. And he bailed out before the agency made one of its most disgraceful decisions during the Bush era -- setting illegally weak standards for mercury and other toxics from coal-fired power plants. Here's what we said about it at the time, courtesy PBS' News Hour. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/jan-june05/epa_3-15.html
The mercury rule was thrown out by the courts, and the Obama EPA is still mopping up.
Holmstead was the architect of most of the Bush EPA air pollution efforts (other than the diesel cleanup). Most of his big ideas were either rejected by Congress or tossed out by the courts as being illegal. Now he spends much of his time blasting his successors for trying to clean up the air!