Energy & Environment

EPA picks state lawmaker to lead New York office

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tapping a New York State lawmaker to lead its regional office based in New York City.

Pete Lopez's responsibilities as Region 2 administrator will include the storm-hit Caribbean territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as New York and New Jersey.

"Pete Lopez has spent nearly a decade in one of the country's largest state legislatures working to improve the quality of life of his constituents," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a statement.

"His familiarity with the region and his experience working to solve environmental problems in New York will be invaluable in helping EPA serve Americans in the Northeast and the Caribbean."

Lopez is a Republican representing an area in central New York near Albany. He was first elected to the assembly in late 2006.

Lopez ran briefly for Rep. Chris Collins's (R) House seat, but he dropped out of the race last year before the election.

Judith Enck, the Region 2 administrator under former President Barack Obama, told the Times Union that Lopez is a good choice for the job.

"It's going to be a challenge to advance environmental protection policies in this administration, but I think Pete Lopez is as good as it's going to get in this administration," she told the newspaper. "I congratulate him, and I think he'll do a good job."

Lopez is the third permanent regional leader to be picked by Pruitt. Trey Glenn is the administrator for the Southeast region based in Atlanta, and Cathy Stepp is the acting administrator for the Midwest region based near Kansas City, Kansas.

Regional administrators are political positions, serving at Pruitt's pleasure. But they do not require confirmation by the Senate, unlike some of the other high-ranking EPA leaders.

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