The EPA’s New England office — which serves six states and ten tribal nations — has been run by an acting administrator for three months.
Deborah Szaro, the deputy regional administrator, took over in January after the former administrator stepped down to become the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
The head of the EPA had appointed a new person to lead the New England region.
Paul Mercer, former commissioner of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, was supposed to start in early March, but he backed out the Friday before his first day.
Dennis Regan, Berkshire Director of the Housatonic Valley Association, said he is optimistic about Szaro, the interim administrator.
“Just the title — acting [regional administrator] — doesn’t provide a lot of confidence,” said Regan. “But she is also the deputy [regional administrator] of Region 1, and has been for quite a while, so I believe she has a lot of experience.”
Regan said he is hopeful Szaro, who has worked for the EPA since 1987, will make progress on the Housatonic River cleanup. He said past leadership wanted to mediate points of conflict, which he said is delaying the cleanup.
EPA’s southeastern office is also headed up by an acting regional administrator. That office works with eight states and six tribes.
Other parts of the federal government that serve as stewards for natural resources are also led by people in acting positions, according to agency websites.
The U.S. Department of Interior has an acting secretary, leading 70,000 employees.
The National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management — all part of the Department of Interior — are led by deputy directors .