Pesticide executive to lead regional EPA office
A former pesticide-manufacturing executive who once headed a California state environmental regulatory agency has been named to take the...
Seattle Times staff reporter
A former pesticide-manufacturing executive who once headed a California state environmental regulatory agency has been named to take the helm of the Seattle office of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Elin Miller, most recently the president of the North American arm of Arysta Life-Science, a Tokyo-based pesticide maker, was appointed regional administrator for EPA's Region 10, headquartered in Seattle. The region includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho.
Miller, 46, is largely unknown to environmental and business groups in Washington. But her credentials had some environmentalists wary.
"It doesn't bode particularly well for her taking a strong stance on improving protections," said Carol Dansereau, director of the Farm Worker Pesticide Project, a nonprofit that works on pesticides and farmworker rights in Washington.
Officials in the pesticide industry praised Miller as smart and evenhanded, with experience as both a regulator and a businesswoman.
"The people in government I know that worked for her had a lot of admiration for her, because she took off her industry hat when she went in and went to work there," said Jay Vroom, president of CropLife America, a group representing the pesticide industry.
"I think she's a consensus builder," he said.
Similarly, Miller released a statement that said, "The best solutions to difficult challenges are those developed locally and collaboratively, with all parties actively engaged in the process." She could not be reached for further comment Friday.
At the EPA, Miller will direct a regional operation that covers everything from water quality to toxic cleanup and pesticide safety. The agency heads cleanup of polluted sites such as the Duwamish River and the Asarco smelter near Tacoma.
As regional administrator, Miller won't have wide latitude to set policy, said Bill Dunbar, a former EPA spokesman who now does private consulting work. While it's her job to carry out the administration's priorities, she can be an advocate for the regional office if there is a conflict with the agency in Washington, D.C.
In California, Miller served as chief deputy director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. In 1995, Republican Gov. Pete Wilson appointed her to head the Department of Conservation, which oversees oil and gas production, among other things.
From 1996 to 2004, she worked as an executive at Dow Chemical, overseeing public affairs and the global pest-management and Asia Pacific operations, according to an EPA news release. She then worked for Arysta LifeScience.
While working in the pesticide industry, Miller served on the boards of two leading industry lobbying groups, CropLife and Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment.
Miller lives on a hazelnut farm in Umpqua, Ore., and does consulting work. She is scheduled to start work at the EPA on Oct. 30.
Ron Kreizenbeck has been serving as acting regional administrator since July.
Warren Cornwall: 206-464-2311 or email@example.com
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