In a Friday news dump, and a sign the administration must feel good about its chances of winning in November, former New Mexico Secretary for the Environment Ron Curry was appointed to be the new EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator, replacing Dr. Al Armendariz who resigned in April.
It's also an indication of how much less political clout Texas has these days. Ever since there have been regional administrators at EPA, there's been a Region 6 that includes,Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana and there's always, always been a Texan in charge. The number of EPA-regulated facilities in Texas dwarfs all the other state's combined, but it was the state's once-powerful Congressional delegation and the influence of those facilities in Austin and DC that kept natives form the Lone Star State in the Regional Administratorship, no matter their political affiliation. But no more. Curry is the first person outside of Texas to ever be named Region 6 Regional Administrator. And he comes from the only state in the region likely to go blue in November.
Curry is a strong choice for environmentalists. He was a close runner up to Armendariz in 2009, and has the endorsement of New Mexico's environmental community. His term as New Mexico environmental chief coincided with Bill Richardson's two terms as Governor. He is a confident progressive, an experienced environmental attorney, and described by New Mexico's Democratic Senator Tom Udall as a "pragmatic thinker."
Curry will certainly have his work cut out for him dealing with Governor Rick Perry and his alter ego, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which has been waging an all out jihad against EPA ever since Obama took office and selected a grassroots favorite in Armendariz to head up Region 6. With signs pointing to Perry running for Governor again, chances are things won't get any easier. According to this account in the Texas Tribune, Curry was involved in implementing groundbreaking climate change programs in New Mexico, a sure way to endear him to Perry and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.