EPA taps climate change doubter to lead Midwest office

EPA taps climate change doubter to lead Midwest office
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The Trump administration has named Wisconsin’s top environmental regulator to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Midwest regional office.

Cathy Stepp will be the principal deputy administrator for the Region 7 office, which is based outside Kansas City, Kansas, and responsible for Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, the EPA said.

Stepp, the head of the Department of Natural Resources under Gov. Scott Walker (R), will be the highest-ranking official at the Kansas City office, so she’ll be acting administrator until EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appoints a regional administrator.

Stepp has frequently been criticized in her Wisconsin role as being too business friendly. She doubts that human activity is the primary cause of climate change and instructed her department last year to remove mentions of human contribution to global warming from the agency’s website, the State Journal reported.

She has been an outspoken supporter of President Trump and often stood on the stage with him during rallies in last year’s presidential election.

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“Cathy Stepp brings a wealth of knowledge to EPA, and will serve an important role as Principal Deputy Regional Administrator in Region 7,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a Tuesday statement.

“Stepp has consistently strived to promote clean air, water and land while ensuring regulatory certainty at the state level to promote a strong and growing economy.”

Stepp told staff in a Tuesday email that the Trump administration “presented me with an opportunity I couldn't ignore,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Stepp is only the second regional administrator the EPA has named under Trump. The EPA last week named Trey Glenn, Alabama’s former environmental regulator, to lead the Southeast office based in Atlanta. The other regions are being led by civil service officials.

Lawmakers from Great Lakes states were alarmed earlier this year by reports that Pruitt was considering closing the Chicago EPA office responsible for their states and putting its responsibilities into the Kansas City office. Pruitt denied that such a move was under consideration.

While Stepp will lead the Kansas City office, her own state of Wisconsin is within the Chicago office’s jurisdiction.

Regional administrators and their deputies are politically appointed, but not subject to Senate confirmation.