EPA taps new No. 2 in staff shuffle

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) named Lisa Feldt as acting deputy administrator on Tuesday, replacing the outgoing second in command.

Feldt will step in for Bob Perciasepe, who served as the second-highest official at the agency since 2009, as he starts his gig as director of the advocacy group Center for Climate and Energy Solutions next week.

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EPA chief Gina McCarthy notified the staff on Thursday of Feldt's new position and praised Perciasepe's tenure at the agency, which spanned a total of 13 years.

"Bob’s amazing leadership as the head of Office of Air and Radiation made him a tough act to follow," McCarthy said on Thursday, according to prepared remarks. "Under his direction, we made huge gains in reducing sulfur in fuels which no doubt saved countless lives, putting together regional haze regulations, and expanding light duty emissions standards to include vans and SUVs."

McCarthy and Perciasepe also notified the agency Thursday of a few other staff changes.

Ken Kopocis, whom the president nominated in 2011 to head the agency's water office but was never confirmed, will take over as deputy assistant administrator for that office.

Also, current acting head of the agency's water office, Nancy Stoner will be leaving, although in his prepared remarks Perciasepe did not mention where Stoner would go.

It raises the question of whether Kopocis will be leading the office of water from his new position without having to go through a Senate confirmation.

Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for Office of Administration and Resources Management, will also be leaving, along with Maryann Froelich, the chief financial officer.

The shuffle is happening as the EPA is facing major backlash from industry and Republicans on a number of proposals to limit carbon pollution and protect bodies of water across the U.S.

"Although we’re losing leaders with tremendous skills, we’re excited for the incredibly capable people that will take the reins," Perciasepe said Thursday.

Perciasepe touted the agency's work on its recent Waters of the U.S. proposal, which reasserts the agency's jurisdiction over wetlands and streams, as well as the administration's signature climate rule on power plants.

"We’re protecting our waters though our Clean Water Act proposal. We’re had some major court wins on clean air that back up your work," he said. "We’re keeping polluters in check through our enforcement efforts.

Perciasepe added that he has "no doubt" the EPA will be "successful," in finalizing the proposed carbon pollution standards for existing power plants by 2015.

"I know all of you will get us across the finish line," he said.