Marianne Horinko, a senior Environmental Protection Agency official, became the second acting administrator of the agency in two weeks as the White House continues its search for a permanent replacement for Christine Todd Whitman.
In turning to Horinko, the assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response, the White House has chosen a manager with extensive agency experience who also headed a solid waste management consulting firm that represented numerous companies regulated by the EPA.
Horinko has handled a wide range of controversies and challenges, including assisting in the cleanup operations at Ground Zero of the World Trade Center towers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the anthrax cleanup in congressional office buildings and the recovery of wreckage in Texas after the Feb. 1 Columbia space shuttle accident.
As overseer of the Superfund program, Horinko also became embroiled in a controversy with Senate Democrats and environmentalists, who complained that the number of federally funded hazardous waste site cleanups dropped substantially after President Bush took office.
Horinko technically will be in charge for the next seven months under her interim appointment by the president, but her tenure will hinge on how long it takes for the White House to nominate a permanent replacement and win Senate approval.
Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne is believed to be a leading candidate to become the new administrator. However, last month's initial flurry of speculation about Kempthorne has subsided, and the White House has not signaled when a final decision will be made.