Washington Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, President Bush's top candidate to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has cut his state's environmental budget three times and sharply reduced enforcement of environmental regulations.
During Kempthorne's four-and-a-half-year tenure as governor, Idaho's pristine air has gotten dirtier, more rivers have been polluted, fewer polluters have been inspected and more toxins have contaminated the air, water and land, according to a Knight Ridder analysis of Idaho pollution data from EPA and state records.
Kempthorne is the leading contender to be the nation's top environmental officer and had a good White House interview for the job two weeks ago, according to Republican officials, Washington business leaders and Kempthorne aides.
Coping with a state budget crisis, Kempthorne has cut Idaho's environmental services budget three times in the past two years. A court order this year is forcing the state to increase monitoring and cleansing of polluted waterways.