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Baucus vows to block nominees

| December 7, 2006 11:00 PM

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus said Wednesday that he will block all nominees for positions with the Environmental Protection Agency until the agency agrees to expedite a study to verify asbestos cleanup efforts in Libby.

Baucus said he's placed a "hold" on Alex Beehler, who's been nominated to be the EPA's inspector general, which performs independent reviews and investigations of the agency. He said today he'll hold up all other EPA nominees as well until the agency agrees to perform the study immediately.

"It's been seven years and the EPA can't tell us whether or not their cleanup activities are working," Baucus said. "That's a disgrace. And that's why nobody from EPA will move through the Senate until we get this fixed."

Since appointments for high-profile positions in the Bush administration must be approved by the U.S. Senate, senators often place holds on nominees as leverage to get the agency to take action. Any senator can place a hold, and it only takes one hold to block the nomination from advancing. Administration appointments aren't subject to confirmation in the U.S. House, just the Senate.

Baucus is a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the EPA.