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By Renee Schoof
Susan Parker Bodine would be a tough and experienced new enforcement chief at the EPA, attorneys who worked with her told Bloomberg BNA.
President Donald Trump announced plans late May 12 to nominate Bodine, the chief counsel of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, as the EPA’s next assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance. Bodine also served at the Environmental Protection Agency from 2006 to 2009 in the George W. Bush administration as the assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, the office that manages hazardous and solid waste management and cleanup programs.
If confirmed by the Senate, Bodine will join several other former aides to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), former chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee and Congress’ leading skeptic of human contributions to climate change, at the agency.
She will lead the office in charge with enforcing the nation’s environmental laws under the direction of an administration that has said it will slash the agency’s budget and focus its enforcement efforts on areas of law that are not already delegated to the states. While Bodine’s work in the past has not included broad enforcement oversight, several of her colleagues said that her 29 years in environmental law have made her familiar with a wide range of regulations.
Mathy Stanislaus, former assistant administrator during the Obama administration of EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, as the office Bodine headed was renamed, said that Bodine “understands both the internal side of the agency and the proper balance of enforcement.”
He said that when she worked as an industry attorney and he was an EPA official, he observed that she was able to figure out requirements that would be flexible and “enable compliance.”
Stanislaus said he expected her to be a “standup person,” but added he was concerned she would be constrained by directions from the Trump administration to take a hands-off approach to enforcement. That would harm public health and destroy a level playing field for companies that comply with environmental rules, he said.
Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles, the assistant administrator for water at the EPA also during the George W. Bush administration, said he first worked with Bodine in the mid-1990s when they were on the staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and later at the EPA.
“She’s tough and fair and committed to public service,” Grumbles said. He added that Bodine “embodies a compliance-first approach, but also will bring enforcement actions when needed.”
Lisa Evans, senior administrative counsel at Earthjustice, who specializes in hazardous waste law, recalled a time she and Bodine testified before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee with opposing views on a proposed bill. The legislation would have ensured that coal ash was handled as solid waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and regulated by states, rather than as a hazardous waste under EPA authority. Evans at the time argued that coal ash contained hazardous substances.
Bodine’s support for the legislation “showed a proclivity to de-emphasize the importance of federal enforcement of environmental laws and a willingness to let states decide enforcement issues and regulate hazardous waste,” Evans told Bloomberg BNA.
After leaving the EPA at the start of the Obama administration in 2009, Bodine worked as an attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP until 2015, when Inhofe hired her as the Environment and Public Works Committee’s top attorney. Her private practice had been focused on environmental public policy issues such as property development, waste management, remediation of contaminated properties and water resources development.
Bodine’s confirmation hearing will be scheduled by the Senate environment committee after the White House formally nominates her.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the current chairman of the committee, praised her in a May 13 statement.
“Susan is committed to finding commonsense ways to protect America’s land, air, and water. In this new role, I know that she will work to help communities and small businesses comply with the law, while holding polluters accountable,” Barrasso said.
Bodine graduated from Princeton University in 1983 with a bachelor of arts degree in history and earned her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988.
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