EPA makes personnel changes

WASHINGTON -- The third official in almost as many months has announced his decision to leave his post at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Effective Jan. 30, John Peter Suarez will leave the EPA to accept a position with Wal-Mart Inc., in Bentonville, Ark. Suarez currently serves as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Suarez was nominated by President Bush in April, 2002, and was confirmed by the Senate to lead the nation's environmental enforcement efforts on August 1, 2002. Prior to his nomination, Suarez was the director of New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement, where he led the state's law enforcement agency responsible for regulating the casino industry. He was nominated to that position by then-Governor Christine Todd Whitman. Suarez also served as Whitman's Assistant Counsel, and prior to that was a federal prosecutor in New Jersey.

In his resignation letter to the President, Suarez says, "the enforcement and compliance efforts are in good hands at EPA, and you can be proud of the work that is being done to protect the citizens of this great nation and the natural resources upon which we all depend. I believe that the enforcement program is on the right track and headed in the direction that we need to go. EPA has demonstrated that we can use data effectively to identify and target the most significant areas of non-compliance, and then measure our successes in light of the benefits realized."

Suarez cited the unique career opportunity and his desire to spend more quality time with his family as the reasons behind his decision.

He joins Bruce Buckheit, who oversaw EPA's enforcement campaign for power plants, and his deputy, Rich Biondi who have resigned from the agency in recent months. In addition, former EPA Administrator Christine Whitman resigned in May after reportedly finding herself at odds with Administration policy goals.

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