Doug Benevento is named Region 8 EPA AdministratorNews Type: Regional Source: The Denver Post
Click here to read the article: http://www.denverpost.com/2017/10/05/trump-colorado-utility-executive-regional-epa-director/
Doug Benevento, who served on the Douglas County School Board, will oversee Superfund, water-quality issues in Colorado, five other states
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday named Doug Benevento as the top EPA official for the Rocky Mountain region — a move that elevates the utility executive from Highlands Ranch into one of the most closely watched federal jobs in Colorado.
It also returns Benevento to the public eye after the conservative policymaker resigned from the Douglas County School Board in 2016 following a tenure in which he championed school vouchers and often clashed with the teacher’s union.
The division oversees EPA efforts in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and 27 tribal nations and recently was most visible in its handling of the Gold King Mine disaster. Its regional headquarters is based in Denver, and staff there oversee a broad range of issues, from water quality monitoring to local Superfund sites.
Benevento comes to the job after serving more than a decade ago as head of the Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.
He said his current position is director of energy policy at Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy. He works out of the company’s Denver office.
Asked about his priorities, Benevento said he’d like to focus on the clean-up of abandoned mines, which in Colorado spew gunk equal to one Gold King Mine accident every two days, according to one estimate.
“They lead to water quality degradation,” he said of the mines.
The pick was praised by several Colorado officials, including Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“Doug Benevento has an extensive background working on important environmental issues in the state of Colorado,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Doug and the rest of EPA to improve the health of Coloradans and protect the natural resources we treasure as we live, work, and play in this beautiful state.”
The White House has struggled in the first few months of the Trump administration to fill federal positions across the country, but it recently has plugged a couple of holes out West, including the nomination of Daniel Domenico to Colorado’s U.S. District Court.
The vacancy at EPA hasn’t gone without notice; one oil and gas representative said earlier this month that “adult supervision” was needed there.
Benevento joins the EPA amid an ongoing fight over what to do about climate change.
In spite of widespread scientific consensus, some Republican officials have questioned its origin and impact, and Trump has said he would withdraw the U.S. from a landmark international deal aimed at addressing it.
Benevento didn’t deny the reality of climate change but wondered how much humanity was to blame.
“Climate change is occurring, and there is some contribution from humans (but) the extent of that contribution, I think, is the question,” he said, adding that he agreed with Trump that the U.S. should step back from the Paris climate accord.
“If you’re asking me (if) I would support that decision as a member of the Trump administration … the answer is yes,” he said.