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EPA Names New Texas-Area Admin

Environmentalists were pleased with the EPA's appointment of Ron Curry as the top administrator for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. The term of office is indefinite and does not require Senate confirmation, but Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., promised "extensive oversight" of Curry.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) installed former New Mexico environmental secretary Ron Curry as the agency’s administrator in Dallas September 25. Curry is the first non-Texan to hold the regional post, which also covers Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

In New Mexico, Curry worked under Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson for eight years on a variety of issues, including climate change and energy policy. Curry pushed for stricter regulations of oil and gas drilling, new rules for carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions, and extra protections for lakes, rivers and streams. The regulator worked with environmentalist groups last year to a successfully challenge an EPA-issued permit for a coal-fired power plant on Navajo land and reopening of a copper smelter in El Paso.

Curry also urged the EPA to block construction of major sources of air pollution in Texas until state regulators tightened permitting rules, saying lax standards harmed New Mexico and failed "to maintain a level economic playing field" with nearby states.

The Obama administration considered Curry for the post in 2009 but instead chose Al Armendariz, who resigned in April amid protests over controversial comments in a YouTube video in which he compares his regulation strategy to Roman soldiers crucifying Turks. Five days after the video went viral, Armendariz left the EPA and joined the Sierra Club in Texas two months later.

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August 25, 2019, 5:30 am PDT

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