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Bush withdraws environmental nominees

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON -- President Bush withdrew two nominees for top environmental posts yesterday, the week before a planned Senate hearing on their confirmation.

The White House said William Wehrum and Alex Beehler recognized that they would not be confirmed and asked to be removed from consideration.

Wehrum, acting head of the air office at the Environmental Protection Agency, had been nominated to take the position permanently. Beehler, a Pentagon environmental official, had been put forward as EPA's inspector general.

"We've had ongoing conversations with them, and they reached the conclusion that it would be best if they withdrew their names," White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said.

Senate Democrats who previously blocked the nominations recently had agreed to a request from Republicans at the Environment and Public Works Committee for a hearing, on the condition that the White House refrain from appointing them during the congressional spring break.

Recess appointments, which Bush and other presidents have used to skirt Senate opposition, last the duration of a Congressional session, which in this case ends about the same time as Bush's presidency.

Bush did grant such an appointment last week to Susan Dudley, another official under fire from environmentalists, to be White House regulatory czar.

Congressional sources and industry lobbyists said they were not sure whether Bush intends to use the same tactic for Wehrum and Beehler at a later date.

Los Angeles Times

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