Mr. President, I rise today in support of Governor Mike Leavitt to be Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. I am supporting his confirmation because we need a leader at the Agency. The EPA needs to be represented during Cabinet meetings and needs a strong advocate for a budget that will allow the Agency to enforce the environmental protections that our citizens deserve. I am concerned about the morale of the employees at the Agency. They are dedicated to environmental protection, yet the direction this Administration has taken on protecting the environment is troubling. The record of the Environmental Protection Agency under this Administration is abysmal. We have watched this Administration rollback environmental laws and regulations day after day, week after week, month after month. They have been dismantling our environmental laws and the protections that our citizens have come to expect, and I believe, deserve from their government. This Administration has allowed the sale of properties contaminated with PCBs, exposing our citizens to highly toxic chemicals. This Administration has limited a state's decision for allowing offshore oil drilling on their own coastline. This Administration has allowed the Fund that pays for cleaning up abandoned toxic Superfund sites across the country to go bankrupt. This Administration has omitted an entire section on climate change from a White House report on the state of the nation's environment, despite convincing science to the contrary. This Administration has decided not to classify carbon dioxide as a pollutant. This Administration has forced the Environmental Protection Agency to "add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones" relating to the air quality standards surrounding the ground zero site following the September 11th attacks. This Administration has proposed rules that would narrow the waters protected over the last 30 years under the Clean Water Act. And, this Administration has allowed major polluters to avoid installing modern control equipment in the New Source Review Rule, devastating the years of progress under the Clean Air Act. Many of these decisions have been made with little input from the people who will be most affected by them and must implement them. As the ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I and the other members of our Committee have oversight responsibility for the Environmental Protection Agency. Yet I do not believe we can carry out that responsibility without the cooperation of the Administration, and I, for one, have not received that cooperation. I have made repeated requests of the EPA to provide information, and have received only a fraction of those requests. For example, I have asked for the analysis of the effects that the New Source Review rules would have on the environment and public health. I have not received it and EPA will not collect information to answer my question. The lack of transparency in this Administration's decision-making and the lack of cooperation with the Congress, troubles me. This is particularly true in the case of New Source Review. According to a new GAO report, it appears that Administration officials have mislead Congress and intentionally undermined ongoing enforcement cases. I am hopeful that Governor Leavitt will have more luck than Governor Whitman did with the White House. EPA needs to be an independent agency as Congress and President Nixon intended. It cannot be a rubber stamp for the polluters' lobbyists and should not be a political arm for the White House. I am hopeful that Governor Leavitt can make an improvement in White House environmental policies, because I find it terribly hard to believe that the President would want to continue squandering his father's environmental legacy. However, it is not an auspicious sign that the Senate takes up the Governor's nomination on the very day that the Bush Administration has formally committed the single greatest rollback on Clean Air since there has been a Federal Clean Air Act. I'm referring to the final NSR rule being published today that allows the dirtiest, oldest power plants to continue polluting forever. I hope against hope that by supporting Governor Leavitt we might bring some accountability and rationality to this White House and he can improve its environmental record. This vote should not be seen as an endorsement of the Bush Administration's environmental policy, but as a vote in support of a fine and honorable man, who has an extremely difficult job ahead.